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Presented to the 

LIBRARIES of the 
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

by 

Holy Blossom Temple 



THE WORKS or 

BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

,EARL or BEACONSriELDc 




nmmm 

mmmmiwmmm. 

BIOGRAFHY.SHORT STOWES 
AND GREAT SPEECHES 
WITH 

A CRITICAL INTRODUCTION Kf 

EDMUND GOSSEXLU. 

LIBRARIAN TO THE 
HOUSE or LORDS. 
AND 

A BIOGRAPHICAL PRErACEKf 
ROBERT ARNOT,M.A. 



rRiNTEDrai simscRiEtRswcrnr 
MWALTERDUNNEniMishcr. 

LONDON AND NEWYORK„ 
^^^^^^^ 



mm 



FROM AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY FRANCIS VAUX WILSON 



' You are beneath abuse, as you are beneath every 
sentiment but one, which I entirely feel.' 

(See page 219.) 



SYBIL 



OR 

E Two Nations 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

EARL OF BEACONSFIELD 



yOLUME I. 



M. WALTER DUNNE 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 



Copyright, 1904, by 

M. WALTER DUNNE 



Entered at Stationers' Hall^ London 



CONTENTS 



Chapter I. page 

THE EVE OF THE DERBY I 

Chapter II. 

PHOSPHORUS WINS . 8 

Chapter III. 

THE HOUSE OF EGREMONT 1 3 

Chapter IV. 

AN IMPORTANT STATE SECRET .... 36 

Chapter V. 

THE IDLE RICH 40 

Chapter VI. 

'le roi est mort; vive la reine!' . . 51 
Chapter VII. 

marney abbey 59 

Chapter VIII. 

' THE question OF THE DAY ' . . * . 68 

Chapter IX. 

A significant event 73 

Chapter X. 

A STROLL THROUGH THE ABBEY .... 79 

Chapter XI. 

A seraphic appearance ...... 86 

(vii) 



viii CONTENTS 

Chapter XII. page 

DOMESTIC TYRANNY 95 

Chapter XIII. 

TRANSFORMATION OF A WAITER TO A NABOB I07 

Chapter XIV. 

THE FAIR RELIGIOUS II5 

Chapter XV. 

YOUNG BLOOD 121 

Chapter XVI. 

DEVILSDUST 1 29 

Chapter XVII. 

AUBREY ST. LYS 1 44 

Chapter XVIII. 

A FRIEND OF THE PEOPLE 1 55 

Chapter XIX. 

A HERALD OF THE DAWN 162 

Chapter XX. 

AN angel of MERCY I70 

Chapter XXI. 

A NOBLE DUKE 1 78 

Chapter XXII. 

A FISHING TRIP AND WHAT CAME OF IT . 1 87 

Chapter XXIII. 

TRAGEDIES OF A MINING TOWN . . . . 1 98 

Chapter XXIV. 

A FAMILY QUARREL ....... 208 

Chapter XXV. 

THE TOMMY-SHOP . , 221 

Chapter XXVI. 

WODGATE 230 



CONTENTS ix 
Chapter XXVII. PAGE 

GERARD'S NEW NEIGHBOUR 239 

Chapter XXVIII. 

A MORNING STROLL 249 

Chapter XXIX. 

THE BISHOP OF WODGATE 254 

Chapter XXX. 

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE PEOPLE . . . 259 

Chapter XXXI. 

STEPHEN PAYS A VISIT 274 

Chapter XXXII. 

PARTING . . . . ^ . . . . . . . 278 

Chapter XXXIII. 

POLITICIANS IN PETTICOATS 290 

Chapter XXXIV. 

A BIRTHDAY GIFT 298 

Chapter XXXV. 

SOCIAL INFLUENCES 303 

Chapter XXXVI. 

A TORCHLIGHT MEETING 3 ID 

Chapter XXXVII. 

THE RIGHTS OF THE MASSES 319 

Chapter XXXVIII. 

WESTMINSTER ABBEY 33O 

Chapter XXXIX. 

A MAKER OF PEERS 339 

Chapter XL. 

egremont's secret 350 

Chapter XLI. 

MORE secrets 356 



X 



CONTENTS 



Chapter XLII. page 

'a glorious vision' 363 

Chapter XLIII. 

INTRIGUES 368 

Chapter XLIV. 

the flattering tongue of hope . . 376 

Chapter XLV. 

fears of lord de mowbray .... 383 

Chapter XLVI. 

an awkward ' hitch ' 389 

Chapter XLVII. 

'the GULF IS impassable' 396 

Chapter XLVIII. 

riots at birmingham 4o5 

I 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



FACING 
PAGE 

*YOU ARE BENEATH ABUSE, AS YOU ARE BENEATH 
EVERY SENTIMENT BUT ONE, WHICH I ENTIRELY 
FEEL.' (See page 219) Frontispiece 



LOOKING AROUND, HE OBSERVED IN THE CEMETERY 

TWO MEN. ONE WAS STANDING BESIDE A TOMB. 85 



EGREMONT FELL UPON HIS KNEES, AND GENTLY TAK- 
ING HER HAND HE PRESSED IT TO HIS LIPS . . 402 



(xi) 



I WOULD INSCRIBE THIS WORK TO ONE WHOSE NOBLE 
SPIRIT AND GENTLE NATURE EVER PROMPT HER 
TO SYMPATHISE WITH THE SUFFERING; TO 
ONE WHOSE SWEET VOICE HAS 
OFTEN ENCOURAGED, AND WHOSE TASTE AND JUDG- 
MENT HAVE EVER GUIDED, ITS PAGES: 
THE 

MOST SEVERE OF CRITICS, BUT — 
A PERFECT wife! 



(xiii) 



ADVERTISEMENT 

(1845) 



The general reader whose attention has not been 
specially drawn to the subject which these volumes 
aim to illustrate — the Condition of the People — might 
suspect that the Writer had been tempted to some 
exaggeration in the scenes that he has drawn, and 
the impressions he has wished to convey. He thinks 
it therefore due to himself to state that the descrip- 
tions, generally, are written from his own observation; 
but while he hopes he has alleged nothing which is 
not true, he has found the absolute necessity of sup- 
pressing much that is genuine. For so little do we 
know of the state of our own country, that the air 
of improbability which the whole truth would inev- 
itably throw over these pages, might deter some from 
their perusal. 

Grosvenor Gate: 
May- Day, 1845. 



(xiv) 



I 



SYBIL 

OR 

THE TWO NATIONS 




CHAPTER I, 
The Eve of the Derby. 

'LL take the odds against Caravan.' 
Mn ponies?' 
*Done.' 

And Lord Milford, a young 
noble, entered in his book the bet 
which he had just made with Mr. 
Latour, a grey-headed member of the Jockey Club. 

It was the eve of the Derby of 1837. In a vast 
and golden saloon, that in its decorations would have 
become, and in its splendour would not have dis- 
graced, Versailles in the days of the grand monarch, 
were assembled many whose hearts beat at the 
thought of the morrow, and whose brains still la- 
boured to control its fortunes to their advantage. 

*They say that Caravan looks puffy,' lisped, in a 
low voice, a young man lounging on the edge of a 

14 B. D.— 1 ( 1 ) 



2 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



buhl table that had once belonged to a Mortemart, 
and dangling a rich cane with affected indifference, in 
order to conceal his anxiety from all, except the per- 
son whom he addressed. 

*They are taking seven to two against him freely 
over the way,' was the reply. 'I believe it's all 
right' 

*Do you know 1 dreamed last night something 
about Mango?' continued the gentleman with the 
cane, and with a look of uneasy superstition. 

His companion shook his head. 

*Well,' continued the gentleman with the cane, *I 
have no opinion of him. I betted Charles Egremont 
the odds against Mango this morning; he goes with 
us, you know. By-the-bye, who is our fourth?' 

'I thought of Milford,' was the reply in an under 
tone. * What say you ? ' 

* Milford is going with St. James and Punch 
Hughes.' 

* Well, let us come in to supper, and we shall see 
some fellow we like.' 

So saying, the companions, taking their course 
through more than one chamber, entered an apart- 
ment of less dimensions than the principal saloon, but 
not less sumptuous in its general appearance. The 
gleaming lustres poured a flood of soft yet brilliant 
light over a plateau glittering with gold plate, and 
fragrant with exotics embedded in vases of rare por- 
celain. The seats on each side of the table were oc- 
cupied by persons consuming, with a heedless air, 
delicacies for which they had no appetite; while the 
conversation in general consisted of flying phrases re- 
ferring to the impending event of the great day that 
had already dawned. 



SYBIL 



3 



*Come from Lady St. Julians', Fitz?' said a youth 
of tender years, whose fair visage was as downy 
and as blooming as the peach from which, with a 
languid air, he withdrew his lips to make this inquiry 
of the gentleman with the cane. 

'Yes; why were not you there?' 

M never go anywhere,' replied the melancholy 
Cupid, * everything bores me so.' 

'Well, will you go to Epsom with us to-morrow, 
Alfred.?' said Lord Fitz-Heron. M take Berners and 
Charles Egremont, and with you our party will be 
perfect.' 

* I feel so cursed hlas^ I ' exclaimed the boy in a 
tone of elegant anguish. 

*It will give you a fillip, Alfred,' said Mr. Berners; 
'do you all the good in the world.' 

'Nothing can do me good,' said Alfred, throwing 
away his almost untasted peach; 'I should be quite 
content if anything could do me harm. Waiter, bring 
me a tumbler of Badminton.' 

'And bring me one too,' sighed out Lord Eugene 
de Vere, who was a year older than Alfred Mount- 
chesney, his companion and brother in listlessness. 
Both had exhausted life in their teens, and all that 
remained for them was to mourn, amid the ruins 
of their reminiscences, over the extinction of excite- 
ment. 

'Well, Eugene, suppose you come with us,' said 
Lord Fitz-Heron. 

'I think 1 shall go down to Hampton Court and 
play tennis,' said Lord Eugene. 'As it is the Derby, 
nobody will be there.' 

'And I will go with you, Eugene,' said Alfred 
Mountchesney, 'and we will dine together afterwards 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



at the Toy. Anything is better than dining in this 
infernal London.' 

'Well, for my part,' said Mr. Berners, *I do not 
like your suburban dinners. You always get some- 
thing you can't eat, and cursed bad wine.' 

M rather like bad wine,' said Mr. Mountchesney; 
'one gets so bored with good wine.' 

* Do you want the odds against Hybiscus, Berners ? ' 
said a guardsman, looking up from his book, which 
he had been intently studying. 

'All I want is some supper, and as you are not 
using your place — ' 

'You shall have it. Oh! here's Milford, he will 
bet me them.' 

And at this moment entered the room the young 
nobleman whom we have before mentioned, accom- 
panied by an individual who was approaching per- 
haps the termination of his fifth lustre, but whose 
general air rather betokened even a less experienced 
time of life. Tall, with a well-proportioned figure 
and a graceful carriage, his countenance touched with a 
sensibility that at once engages the affections, Charles 
Egremont was not only admired by that sex whose 
approval generally secures men enemies among their 
fellows, but was at the same time the favourite of 
his own. 

'Ah, Egremont! come and sit here,' exclaimed 
more than one banqueter. 

' I saw you waltzing with the little Bertie, old fel- 
low,' said Lord Fitz-Heron, 'and therefore did not stay 
to speak to you, as I thought we should meet here. 
I am to call for you, mind.' 

'How shall we all feel this time to-morrow?' said 
Egremont, smiling. 



SYBIL 



5 



*The happiest fellow at this moment must be 
Cockie Graves,' said Lord Milford. 'He can have no 
suspense. I have been looking over his book, and I 
defy him, whatever happens, not to lose.' 

'Poor Cockie,' said Mr. Berners; 'he has asked 
me to dine with him at the Clarendon on Satur- 
day.' 

'Cockie is a very good Cockie,' said Lord Milford, 
'and Caravan is a very good horse; and if any gen- 
tleman sportsman present wishes to give seven to 
two, I will take him to any amount.* 

'My book is made up,' said Egremont: 'and I 
stand or fall by Caravan.* 

'And L' 

'And I.' 

'And L' 

'Well, mark my words,' said a fourth, rather 
solemnly, 'Rat-trap wins.* 

'There is not a horse except Caravan,' said Lord 
Milford, 'fit for a borough stake.' 

'You used to be all for Phosphorus, Egremont,* 
said Lord Eugene de Vere. 

' Yes ; but fortunately 1 have got out of that scrape. 
I owe Phlop. Dormer a good turn for that. 1 was 
the third man who knew he had gone lame.' 

'And what are the odds against him now?' 

'Oh! nominal; forty to one; what you please.' 

'He won't run,' said Mr. Berners, 'John Day told 
me he had refused to ride him.' 

'I believe Cockie Graves might win something if 
Phosphorus came in first,' said Lord Milford, laughing. 

' How close it is to-night! ' said Egremont. * Waiter, 
give me some seltzer water; and open another win- 
dow; open them all.' 



6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



At this moment an influx of guests intimated that 
the assembly at Lady St. Julians' had broken up. 
Many at the table rose and yielded their places, clus- 
tering round the chimney-piece, or forming in various 
groups, and discussing the great question. Several of 
those who had recently entered were votaries of Rat- 
trap, the favourite, and quite prepared, from all the 
information that had reached them, to back their opin- 
ions valiantly. The conversation had now become 
general and animated, or rather there was a medley of 
voices in which little was distinguished except the 
names of horses and the amount of odds. In the 
midst of all this, waiters glided about, handing in- 
comprehensible mixtures bearing aristocratic names; 
mystical combinations of French wines and German 
waters, flavoured with slices of Portugal fruits, and 
cooled with lumps of American ice, compositions 
which immortalized the creative genius of some high 
patrician name. 

*By Jove! that's a flash!' exclaimed Lord Milford, 
as a blaze of lightning seemed to suffuse the cham- 
ber, and the beaming lustres turned white and ghastly 
in the glare. 

The thunder rolled over the building. There was a 
dead silence. Was it going to rain? Was it going 
to pour? Was the storm confined to the metropolis? 
Would it reach Epsom? A deluge, and the course 
would be a quagmire and strength might baffle speed. 

Another flash, another explosion, the hissing noise 
of rain. Lord Milford moved aside, and, jealous of 
the eye of another, read a letter from Chifney, and in 
a few minutes afterwards offered to take the odds 
against Pocket Hercules. Mr. Latour walked to the 
window, surveyed the heavens, sighed that there was 



SYBIL 



7 



not time to send his tiger from the door to Epsom, 
and get information whether the storm had reached the 
Surrey hills, for to-night's operations. It was too late. 
So he took a rusk and a glass of lemonade, and re- 
tired to rest with a cool head and a cooler heart. 

The storm raged, the incessant flash played as it 
were round the burnished cornice of the chamber, and 
threw a lurid hue on the scenes of Watteau and 
Boucher that sparkled in the medallions over the lofty 
doors. The thunderbolts seemed to descend in clat- 
tering confusion upon the roof. Sometimes there was 
a moment of dead silence, broken only by the patter- 
ing of the rain in the street without, or the pattering 
of the dice in a chamber at hand. Then horses were 
backed, bets made, and there were loud and frequent 
calls for brimming goblets from hurrying waiters, dis- 
tracted by the lightning and deafened by the peal. It 
seemed a scene and a supper where the marble guest 
of Juan might have been expected; and, had he ar- 
rived, he would have found probably hearts as bold 
and spirits as reckless as he encountered in Andalusia. 



CHAPTER 11. 




Phosphorus Wins! 

ILL any one do anything about 
Hybiscus?' sang out a gentleman in 
the ring at Epsom. It was full of 
eager groups; round the betting 
post a swarming cluster, while the 
magic circle itself was surrounded by 
a host of horsemen shouting from their saddles the odds 
they were ready to receive or give, and the names of 
the horses they were prepared to back or to oppose. 
'Will any one do anything about Hybiscus?' 
'I'll bet you five to one,' said a tall, stiff Saxon 
peer, in a white great-coat. 
'No; I'll take six.' 

The tall, stiff peer in the white great-coat mused 
for a moment with his pencil at his lip, and then said, 
'Well, I'll bet you six. What do you say about 
Mango ?' 

'Eleven to two against Mango,' called out a little 
hump-backed man in a shrill voice, but with the air 
of one who was master of his work. 

' I should like to do a little business with you, Mr. 
Chippendale, said Lord Milford, in a coaxing tone, 
'but I must have six to one.' 
(8) 



SYBIL 



9 



'Eleven to two, and no mistake,' said this keeper 
of a second-rate gaming-house, who, known by the 
flattering appellation of Hump Chippendale, now turned 
with malignant abruptness from the heir-apparent of 
an English earldom. 

'You shall have six to one, my lord,' said Cap- 
tain Spruce, a debonair personage, with a well-turned 
silk hat arranged a little aside, his coloured cravat tied 
with precision, his whiskers trimmed like a quickset 
hedge. Spruce, who had earned his title of Captain 
on the plains of Newmarket, which had witnessed for 
many a year his successful exploits, had a weakness 
for the aristocracy, who, knowing his graceful in- 
firmity, patronized him with condescending dexterity, 
acknowledged his existence in Pail-Mall as well as at 
Tattersall's, and thus occasionally got a point more 
than the betting out of him. Hump Chippendale had 
none of these gentle failings; he was a democratic 
leg, who loved to fleece a noble, and thought all men 
were born equal; a consoling creed that was a hedge 
for his hump. 

'Seven to four against the favourite; seven to two 
against Caravan; eleven to two against Mango. What 
about Benedict? Will any one do anything about 
Pocket Hercules? Thirty to one against Dardanelles.' 

'Done.' 

' Five-and-thirty ponies to one against Phosphorus,' 
shouted a little man vociferously and repeatedly. 

'I will bet forty,' said Lord Milford. No answer; 
nothing done. 

'Forty to one!' murmured Egremont, who stood 
against Phosphorus. A little nervous, he said to the 
peer in the white great-coat, 'Don't you think that 
Phosphorus may, after all, have some chance?' 



lo BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



M should be cursed sorry to be deep against him,' 
said the peer. 

Egremont with a quivering lip walked away. He 
consulted his book; he meditated anxiously. Should 
he hedge.?* It was scarcely worth while to mar 
the symmetry of his winnings; he stood 'so well* 
by all the favourites; and for a horse at forty to 
one. No; he would trust his star, he would not 
hedge. 

'Mr. Chippendale,' whispered the peer in the white 
great-coat, 'go and press Mr. Egremont about Phos- 
phorus. I should not be surprised if you got a good 
thing.' 

At this moment, a huge, broad-faced, rosy-gilled 
fellow, with one of those good-humoured yet cunning 
countenances that we meet occasionally north of the 
Trent, rode up to the ring on a square cob, and, dis- 
mounting, entered the circle. He was a carcase- 
butcher famous in Carnaby-market, and the prime 
counsellor of a distinguished nobleman, for whom 
privately he betted on commission. His secret service 
to-day was to bet against his noble employer's own 
horse, and so he at once sung out, 'Twenty to one 
against Man-trap.' 

A young gentleman just launched into the world, 
and who, proud of his ancient and spreading acres, 
was now making his first book, seeing Man-trap 
marked eighteen to one on the cards, jumped eagerly 
at this bargain, while Lord Fitz-Heron and Mr. Ber- 
ners, who were at hand, and who in their days had 
found their names in the book of the carcase-butcher, 
and grown wise by it, interchanged a smile. 

'Mr. Egremont will not take,' said Hump Chip- 
pendale to the peer in the white great-coat. 



SYBIL 



'You must have been too eager,' said his noble 
friend. 

The ring is up; the last odds declared; all gallop 
away to the Warren. A few minutes, only a few 
minutes, and the event that for twelve months has 
been the pivot of so much calculation, of such subtle 
combinations, of such deep conspiracies,, round which 
the thought and passion of the sporting world have 
hung like eagles, will be recorded in the fleeting 
tablets of the past. But what minutes! Count them 
by sensation, and not by calendars, and each mo- 
ment is a day and the race a life. Hogarth, in a 
coarse and yet animated sketch, has painted ' Before ' 
and 'After.' A creative spirit of a higher vein might 
develop the simpHcity of the idea with subHmer ac- 
cessories. Pompeius before Pharsalia, Harold before 
Hastings, Napoleon before Waterloo, might afford 
some striking contrasts to the immediate catastrophe 
of their fortunes. Finer still, the inspired mariner 
who has just discovered a new world; the sage who 
has revealed a new planet; and yet the 'Before' and 
'After' of a first-rate English race, in the degree of 
its excitement, and sometimes in the tragic emotions 
of its close, may vie even with these. 

They are saddhng the horses; Caravan looks in 
great condition; and a scornful smile seems to play 
upon the handsome features of Pavis, as, in the be- 
coming colours of his employer, he gracefully gallops 
his horse before his admiring supporters. Egremont, 
in the delight of an English patrician, scarcely saw 
Mango, and never even thought of Phosphorus; Phos- 
phorus, who, by-the-bye, was the first horse that 
showed, with both his forelegs bandaged. 

They are off! 



12 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



As soon as they are well away, Chifney makes the 
running with Pocket Hercules. Up to the Rubbing 
House he is leading; this is the only point the eye 
can select. Higher up the hill, Caravan, Hybiscus, 
Benedict, Mahometan, Phosphorus, Michel Fell, and 
Rat-trap are with the grey, forming a front rank, and 
at the new ground the pace has told its tale, for half 
a dozen are already out of the race. 

The summit is gained; the tactics alter: here Pavis 
brings up Caravan, with extraordinary severity; the 
pace round Tattenham corner terrific; Caravan lead- 
ing, then Phosphorus a little above him, Mahometan 
next, Hybiscus fourth. Rat-trap looking badly, Wis- 
dom, Benedict, and another handy. By this time 
Pocket Hercules has enough, and at the road the tail- 
ing grows at every stride. Here the favourite himself 
is hors de combat, as well as Dardanelles, and a 
crowd of lesser celebrities. 

There are now but four left in the race, and of 
these, two, Hybiscus and Mahometan, are some lengths 
behind. Now it is neck and neck between Caravan 
and Phosphorus. At the stand, Caravan has decidedly 
the best; but just at the post, Edwards, on Phos- 
phorus, lifts the gallant little horse, and with an ex- 
traordinary effort contrives to shove him in by half a 
length. 

*You look a little low, Charley,* said Lord Fitz- 
Heron, as taking their lunch in their drag, he poured 
the champagne into the glass of Egremont. 

* By Jove! ' said Lord Milford, 'only think of Cockie 
Graves having gone and done it!' 



CHAPTER III. 




The House of Egremont. 

GREMONT was the younger brother 
of an EngHsh earl, whose nobility, 
being of nearly three centuries' 
date, ranked him among our high 
and ancient peers, although its 
origin was more memorable than 
illustrious. The founder of the family had been a 
confidential domestic of one of the favourites of 
Henry Vlll., and had contrived to be appointed one 
of the commissioners for 'visiting and taking the 
surrenders of divers religious houses.' It came to pass 
that divers of these religious houses surrendered them- 
selves eventually to the use and benefit of honest 
Baldwin Greymount. The king was touched with 
the activity and zeal of his commissioner. Not one 
of them whose reports were so ample and satisfactory, 
who could baffle a wily prior with more dexterity, 
or control a proud abbot with more firmness. Nor 
were they well-digested reports alone that were trans- 
mitted to the Sovereign: they came accompanied with 
many rare and curious articles, grateful to the taste 
of one who was not only a religious reformer but a 
dilettante; golden candlesticks and costly chalices; 

(13) 



14 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



sometimes a jewelled pyx; fantastic spoons and pat- 
ens, rings for the fingers and the ear; occasionally a 
fair-written and blazoned manuscript: suitable offering 
to the royal scholar. Greymount was noticed; sent 
for; promoted in the household; knighted; might 
doubtless have been sworn of the council, and in due 
time have become a minister; but his was a discreet 
ambition, of an accumulative rather than an aspiring 
character. He served the king faithfully in all domes- 
tic matters that required an unimpassioned, unscru- 
pulous agent; fashioned his creed and conscience 
according to the royal model in all its freaks; seized 
the right moment to get sundry grants of abbey 
lands, and contrived in that dangerous age to save 
both his head and his estate. 

The Greymount family having planted themselves 
in the land, faithful to the policy of the founder, 
avoided the public gaze during the troubled period 
that followed the reformation; and even during the 
more orderly reign of Elizabeth, rather sought their 
increase in alliances than in court favour. But at the 
commencement of the seventeenth century, their ab- 
bey lands infinitely advanced in value, and their rental 
swollen by the prudent accumulation of more than 
seventy years, a Greymount, who was then a county 
member, was elevated to the peerage as Baron Mar- 
ney. The heralds furnished his pedigree, and assured 
the world that, although the exalted rank and exten- 
sive possessions enjoyed at present by the Greymounts 
had their origin immediately in great territorial revo- 
lutions of a recent reign, it was not for a moment 
to be supposed that the remote ancestors of the Ec- 
clesiastical Commissioner of 1530 were by any means 
obscure. On the contrary^ it appeared that they were 



SYBIL 



15 



both Norman and baronial, their real name Egremont, 
which, in their patent of peerage, the family now re- 
sumed. 

In the civil wars the Egremonts, pricked by their 
Norman blood, were cavaliers, and fought pretty well. 
But in 1688, alarmed at the prevalent impression that 
King James intended to insist on the restitution of 
the Church estates to their original purposes, to wit, 
the education of the people and the maintenance of 
the poor, the Lord of Marney Abbey became a warm 
adherent of 'civil and religious liberty,' the cause for 
which Hampden had died in the field, and Russell on 
the scaffold, and joined the other Whig lords, and 
great lay impropriators, in calling over the Prince of 
Orange and a Dutch army, to vindicate those popular 
principles which, somehow or other, the people would 
never support. Profiting by this last pregnant cir- 
cumstance, the lay abbot of Marney, also in this in- 
stance like the other Whig lords, was careful to 
maintain, while he vindicated the cause of civil and 
religious liberty, a loyal and dutiful though secret 
correspondence with the court of St. Germains. 

The great deliverer. King William 111., to whom Lord 
Marney was a systematic traitor, made the descendant 
of the Ecclesiastical Commissioner of Henry VIII. an 
EngHsh earl; and from that time until the period of 
our history, though the Marney family had never 
produced one individual eminent for civil or miUtary 
abilities, though the country was not indebted to them 
for a single statesman, orator, successful warrior, great 
lawyer, learned divine, eminent author, illustrious 
man of science, they had contrived, if not to engross 
any great share of public admiration and love, at least 
to monopolise no contemptible portion of public 



i6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



money and public dignities. During the seventy 
years of almost unbroken Whig rule, from the acces- 
sion of the House of Hanover to the fall of Mr. Fox, 
Marney Abbey had furnished a never-failing crop of 
lord privy seals, lord presidents, and lord lieutenants. 
The family had had their due quota of garters and 
governments and bishoprics; admirals without fleets, 
and generals who fought only in America. They had 
glittered in great embassies with clever secretaries at 
their elbow, and had once governed Ireland, when to 
govern Ireland was only to apportion the public 
plunder to a corrupt senate. 

Notwithstanding, however, this prolonged enjoy- 
ment of undeserved prosperity, the lay abbots of 
Marney were not content. Not that it was satiety 
which induced dissatisfaction. The Egremonts could 
feed on. They wanted something more. Not to be 
prime ministers or secretaries of state, for they were a 
shrewd race who knew the length of their tether, 
and notwithstanding the encouraging example of his 
Grace of Newcastle, they could not resist the per- 
suasion that some knowledge of the interests and 
resources of nations, some power of expressing opin- 
ions with propriety, some degree of respect for the 
public and for himself, were not altogether indis- 
pensable qualifications even under a Venetian consti- 
tution, in an individual who aspired to a post so 
eminent and responsible. Satisfied with the stars and 
mitres, and official seals, which were periodically 
apportioned to them, the Marney family did not 
aspire to the somewhat graceless office of being their 
distributor. What they aimed at was promotion in 
their order; and promotion to the highest class. They 
observed that more than one of the other great 'civil 



SYBIL 



17 



and religious liberty' families, the families who in one 
century plundered the Church to gain the property of 
the people and in another century changed the dy- 
nasty to gain the power of the crown, had their 
brows circled with the strawberry leaf. And why 
should not this distinction be the high lot also of the 
descendants of the old gentleman-usher of one of 
King Henry's plundering vicar-generals? Why not? 
True it is, that a grateful sovereign in our days has 
deemed such distinction the only reward for half a 
hundred victories. True it is, that Nelson, after con- 
quering the Mediterranean, died only a viscount! But 
the house of Marney had risen to high rank, counted 
themselves ancient nobility; and turned up their noses 
at the Pratts and the Smiths, the Jenkinsons and the 
Robinsons of our degenerate days; and never had 
done anything for the nation or for their honours. 
And why should they now? It was unreasonable to 
expect it. Civil and religious liberty, that had given 
them a broad estate and glittering coronet, to say 
nothing of half-a-dozen close seats in Parliament, ought 
clearly to make them dukes. 

But the other great Whig families who had ob- 
tained this honour, and who had done something 
more for it than spoliate their Church and betray their 
king, set up their backs against this claim of the 
Egremonts. The Egremonts had done none of the 
work of the last hundred years of political mystifica- 
tion, during which a people without power or educa- 
tion had been induced to believe themselves the 
freest and most enlightened nation in the world, and 
had submitted to lavish their blood and treasure, to 
see their industry crippled and their labour mortgaged, 
in order to maintain an oligarchy that had neither 

14 B. D.— 3 



1 8 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



ancient memories to soften nor present services to 
justify their unprecedented usurpation. 

How had the Egremonts contributed to this 
prodigious result? Their family had furnished none 
of those artful orators whose bewildering phrase had 
fascinated the public intelligence; none of those toil- 
some patricians whose assiduity in affairs had con- 
vinced their unprivileged fellow-subjects that govern- 
ment was a science, and administration an art, which 
demanded the devotion of a peculiar class in the 
state for their fulfilment and pursuit. The Egremonts 
had never said anything that was remembered, or 
done anything that could be recalled. It was decided 
by the Great Revolution families that they should 
not be dukes. Infinite was the indignation of the lay 
abbot of Marney. He counted his boroughs, consulted 
his cousins, and muttered revenge. The opportunity 
soon offered for the gratification of his passion. 

The situation of the Venetian party in the wane 
of the eighteenth century had become extremely critical. 
A young king was making often fruitless, but always 
energetic, struggles to emancipate his national royalty 
from the trammels of the factious dogeship. More 
than sixty years of a government of singular corrup- 
tion had alienated all hearts from the oligarchy; never 
indeed much affected by the great body of the people. 
It could no longer be concealed that, by virtue of a 
plausible phrase, power had been transferred from the 
crown to a parliament, the members of which were 
appointed by a limited and exclusive class, who 
owned no responsibility to the country, who de- 
bated and voted in secret, and who were regularly 
paid by the small knot of great families that by this 
machinery had secured the permanent possession of 



SYBIL 



19 



the king's treasury. Whiggism was putrescent in 
the nostrils of the nation; we were probably on the 
eve of a bloodless yet important revolution; when 
Rockingham, a virtuous magnifico, alarmed and dis- 
gusted, resolved to revive something of the pristine 
purity and high-toned energy of the old Whig con- 
nection, appealed to his * new generation ' from a de- 
generate age, arrayed under his banner the generous 
youth of the Whig families, and was fortunate to en- 
list in the service the supreme genius of Edmund 
Burke. 

Burke effected for the Whigs what Bolingbroke in 
a preceding age had done for the Tories: he restored 
the moral existence of the party. He taught them to 
recur to the ancient principles of their connection, and 
suffused those principles with all the delusive splendour 
of his imagination. He raised the tone of their public 
discourse; he breathed a high spirit into their public 
acts. It was in his power to do more for the Whigs 
than St. John could do for his party. The oligarchy, 
who had found it convenient to attaint Bolingbroke 
for being the avowed minister of the English Prince 
with whom they were always in secret communica- 
tion, when opinion forced them to consent to his 
restitution, had tacked to the amnesty a clause as 
cowardly as it was unconstitutional, and declared 
his incompetence to sit in the parliament of his 
country. Burke, on the contrary, fought the Whig 
fight with a two-edged weapon: he was a great 
writer; as an orator he was transcendent. In a dearth 
of that public talent for the possession of which the 
Whigs have generally been distinguished. Burke came 
forward and established them alike in the parliament 
and the country. And what was his reward ? No 



20 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



sooner had a young and dissolute noble, who, with 
some of the aspirations of a Caesar, oftener realised 
the conduct of a Catiline, appeared on the stage, and 
after some inglorious tergiversation adopted their 
colours, than they transferred to him the command 
which had been won by wisdom and genius, vindi- 
cated by unrivalled knowledge, and adorned by ac- 
complished eloquence. When the hour arrived for the 
triumph which he had prepared, he was not even 
admitted into the Cabinet," virtually presided over 
by his graceless pupil, who, in the profuse sugges- 
tions of his teeming converse, had found the prin- 
ciples and the information which were among the 
chief claims to public confidence of Mr. Fox. 

Hard necessity made Mr. Burke submit to the yoke, 
but the humiliation could never be forgotten. Neme- 
sis favours genius; the inevitable hour at length ar- 
rived. A voice like the Apocalypse sounded over 
England, and even echoed in all the courts of Europe. 
Burke poured forth the vials of his hoarded vengeance 
into the agitated heart of Christendom; he stimulated 
the panic of a world by the wild pictures of his in- 
spired imagination; he dashed to the ground the rival 
who had robbed him of his hard-earned greatness; 
rent in twain the proud oligarchy that had dared to 
use and to insult him; and, followed with servility by 
the haughtiest and the most timid of its members, amid 
the frantic exultation of his country, he placed his heel 
upon the neck of the ancient serpent. 

Among the Whig followers of Mr. Burke in this 
memorable defection, among the Devonshires and the 
Portlands, the Spencers and the Fitzwilliams, was the 
Earl of Marney, whom the Whigs would not make a 
duke. 



SYBIL 



21 



What was his chance of success from Mr. Pitt? 

If the history of England be ever written by one 
who has the knowledge and the courage, and both 
qualities are equally requisite for the undertaking, the 
world would be more astonished than when reading 
the Roman annals by Niebuhr. Generally speaking, 
all the great events have been distorted, most of the 
important causes concealed, some of the principal 
characters never appear, and all who figure are so 
misunderstood and misrepresented, that the result is 
a complete mystification, and the perusal of the nar- 
rative about as profitable to an Englishman as reading 
the Republic of Plato or the Utopia of More, the pages 
of Gaudentio di Lucca or the adventures of Peter 
Wilkins. 

The influence of races in our early ages, of the 
Church in our middle, and of parties in our modern 
history, are three great moving and modifying pow- 
ers, that must be pursued and analysed with an un- 
tiring, profound, and unimpassioned spirit, before a 
guiding ray can be secured. A remarkable feature of 
our written history is the absence in its pages of some 
of the most influential personages. Not one man in 
a thousand, for instance, has ever heard of Major 
Wildman: yet he was the soul of English politics in 
the most eventful period of this kingdom, and one 
most interesting to this age, from 1640 to 1688; and 
seemed more than once to hold the balance which 
was to decide the permanent forms of our govern- 
ment. But he was the leader of an unsuccessful party. 
Even, comparatively speaking, in our own times, the 
same mysterious oblivion is sometimes encouraged to 
creep over personages of great social distinction as 
well as poHtical importance. 



22 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



The name of the second Pitt remains, fresh after 
forty years of great events, a parliamentary beacon. 
He was the Chatterton of politics ; the ' marvellous 
boy.' Some have a vague impression that he was 
mysteriously moulded by his great father; that he in- 
herited the genius, the eloquence, the statecraft of 
Chatham. His genius was of a different bent, his elo- 
quence of a different class, his statecraft of a different 
school. To understand Mr. Pitt, one must understand 
one of the suppressed characters of English history, 
and that is Lord Shelburne. 

When the fine genius of the injured Bolingbroke, 
the only peer of his period who was educated, and 
proscribed by the oligarchy because they were afraid 
of his eloquence, 'the glory of his order and the 
shame,' shut out from Parhament, found vent in those 
writings which recalled to the English people the in- 
herent blessings of their old free monarchy, and 
painted in immortal hues his picture of a patriot king, 
the spirit that he raised at length touched the heart 
of Carteret, born a Whig, yet sceptical of the ad- 
vantages of that patrician constitution which made 
the Duke of Newcastle, the most incompetent of men, 
but the chosen leader of the Venetian party, virtually 
Sovereign of England. Lord Carteret had many bril- 
liant qualities: he was undaunted, enterprising, elo- 
quent; had considerable knowledge of continental 
politics, was a great linguist, a master of public law; 
and though he failed in his premature effort to termi- 
nate the dogeship of George II., he succeeded in 
maintaining a considerable though secondary position 
in public life. The young Shelburne married his 
daughter. Of him it is singular we know less than 
of his father-in-law, yet from the scattered traits some 



SYBIL 



23 



idea may be formed of the ablest and most accom- 
plished minister of the eighteenth century. Lord Shel- 
burne, influenced probably by the example and the 
traditionary precepts of his eminent father-in-law, ap- 
pears early to have held himself aloof from the patrician 
connection, and entered public life as the follower of 
Bute in the first great effort of George III. to rescue 
the sovereignty from what Lord Chatham called 'the 
Great Revolution families.' He became in time a 
member of Lord Chatham's last administration; one of 
the strangest and most unsuccessful efforts to aid the 
grandson of George II. in his struggle for political 
emancipation. Lord Shelburne adopted from the first 
the Bolingbroke system; a real royalty, in lieu of the 
chief magistracy; a permanent alliance with France, 
instead of the Whig scheme of viewing in that power 
the natural enemy of England; and, above all, a plan 
of commercial freedom, the germ of which may be 
found in the long-maligned negotiations of Utrecht, 
but which, in the instance of Lord Shelburne, were 
soon in time matured by all the economical science of 
Europe, in which he was a proficient. Lord Shel- 
burne seems to have been of a reserved and some- 
what astute disposition: deep and adroit, he was 
however brave and firm. His knowledge was exten- 
sive and even profound. He was a great linguist; he 
pursued both literary and scientific investigations; his 
house was frequented by men of letters, especially 
those distinguished by their political abilities or eco- 
nomical attainments. He maintained the most exten- 
sive private correspondence of any public man of his 
time. The earliest and most authentic information 
reached him from all courts and quarters of Europe; 
and it was a common phrase that the minister of the 



24 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



day sent to him often for the important information 
which the cabinet could not itself command. Lord 
Shelburne was the first great minister who compre- 
hended the rising importance of the middle class, and 
foresaw in its future power a bulwark for the throne 
against 'the Great Revolution families/ Of his quali- 
ties in council we have no record; there is reason 
to believe that his administrative ability was con- 
spicuous; his speeches prove that, if not supreme, he 
was eminent, in the art of parliamentary disputation, 
while they show on all the questions discussed a 
richness and variety of information, with which the 
speeches of no statesman of that age except Mr. Burke 
can compare. 

Such was the man selected by George 111. as his 
champion against the Venetian party, after the termi- 
nation of the American war. The prosecution of that 
war they had violently opposed, though it had origi- 
nated in their own policy. First minister in the 
House of Lords, Shelburne entrusted the lead in the 
House of Commons to his Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, the youthful Pitt. The administration was 
brief, but it was not inglorious. It obtained peace, 
and, for the first time since the Revolution, intro- 
duced into modern debate the legitimate principles on 
which commerce should be conducted. It fell before 
the famous Coalition with which 'the Great Revolu- 
tion families' commenced their fiercest and their last 
contention for the patrician government of royal Eng- 
land. 

In the heat of that great strife, the king, in the 
second hazardous exercise of his prerogative, en- 
trusted the perilous command to Pitt. Why Lord 
Shelburne on that occasion was set aside, will per- 



SYBIL 



haps always remain a mysterious passage of our 
political history, nor have we space on the present 
occasion to attempt to penetrate its motives. Per- 
haps the monarch, with a sense of the rising sym- 
pathies of his people, was prescient of the magic 
power of youth in touching the heart of a nation. 
Yet it would not be an unprofitable speculation, if for 
a moment we pause to consider what might have 
been the consequences to our country if Mr. Pitt had 
been content for a season again to lead the Commons 
under Lord Shelburne, and to have secured for Eng- 
land the unrivalled knowledge and dexterity of that 
statesman in the conduct of our affairs during the 
confounding fortunes of the French revolution. Lord 
Shelburne was the only English minister competent 
to the place: he was the only public man who had 
the previous knowledge requisite to form accurate 
conclusions on such a conjuncture; his remaining 
speeches on the subject attest the amplitude of his 
knowledge and the accuracy of his views; and in the 
rout of Jena, or the agony of Austerlitz, one cannot 
refrain from picturing the shade of Shelburne haunt- 
ing the cabinet of Pitt, as the ghost of Canning is 
said occasionally to linger about the Speaker's chair, 
and smile sarcastically on the conscientious mediocri- 
ties who pilfered his hard-earned honours. 

But, during the happier years of Mr. Pitt, the in- 
fluence of the mind of Shelburne may be traced 
throughout his policy. It was Lansdowne House that 
made Pitt acquainted with Dr. Price, a dissenting 
minister, whom Lord Shelburne, when at the head of 
affairs, courageously offered to make his private 
secretary, and who furnished Mr. Pitt, among other 
important suggestions, with his original plan of the 



26 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



sinking fund. The commercial treaties of '87 were 
struck in the same mint, and are notable as the first 
effort made by the English government to emancipate 
the country from the restrictive policy which had 
been introduced by the 'glorious revolution;' memo- 
rable epoch, that presented England at the same time 
with a corn-law and a public debt. But on no sub- 
ject was the magnetic influence of the descendant of 
Sir William Petty more decided, than in the resolu- 
tion of his pupil to curb the power of the patrician 
party by an infusion from the middle classes into the 
government of the country. Hence the origin of Mr. 
Pitt's famous and long-misconceived plans of parlia- 
mentary reform. Was he sincere, is often asked by 
those who neither seek to discover the causes, nor 
are capable of calculating the effects of public trans- 
actions. Sincere! Why, he was struggling for his 
existence! And when, baffled, first by the Venetian 
party, and afterwards by the panic of Jacobinism, he 
was forced to forego his direct purpose, he still en- 
deavoured partially to effect it by a circuitous process. 
He created a plebeian aristocracy and blended it with 
the patrician oligarchy. He made peers of second- 
rate squires and fat graziers. He caught them in the 
alleys of Lombard Street, and clutched them from the 
counting-houses of Cornhill. When Mr. Pitt, in an 
age of Bank restriction, declared that every man with 
an estate of ten thousand a year had a right to be a 
peer, he sounded the knell of 'the cause for which 
Hampden had died on the field, and Sidney on the 
scaffold.' 

In ordinary times the pupil of Shelburne would 
have raised this country to a state of great material 
prosperity, and removed or avoided many of those 



SYBIL 



27 



anomalies which now perplex us; but he was not 
destined for ordinary times; and, though his capacity 
was vast and his spirit lofty, he had not that passion- 
ate and creative genius required by an age of revolu- 
tion. The French outbreak was his evil daemon: he 
had not the means of calculating its effects upon 
Europe. He had but a meagre knowledge himself of 
continental politics: he was assisted by an inefficient 
diplomacy. His mind was lost in a convulsion of 
which he neither could comprehend the causes nor 
calculate the consequences; and, forced to act, he 
acted not only violently, but in exact opposition to 
the very system he was called into political existence 
to combat; he appealed to the fears, the prejudices, 
and the passions of a privileged class, revived the old 
policy of the oligarchy he had extinguished, and 
plunged into all the ruinous excesses of French war 
and Dutch finance. 

If it be a salutary principle in the investigation of 
historical transactions, to be careful in discriminating 
the cause from the pretext, there is scarcely any in- 
stance in which the application of this principle is 
more fertile in results, than in that of the Dutch in- 
vasion of 1688. The real cause of this invasion was 
financial. The Prince of Orange had found that the 
resources of Holland, however considerable, were in- 
adequate to sustain him in his internecine rivalry 
with the great Sovereign of France. In an authentic 
conversation which has descended to us, held by 
William at The Hague with one of the prime abettors 
of the invasion, the prince did not disguise his mo- 
tives; he said, 'Nothing but such a constitution as 
you have in England can have the credit that Is nec- 
essary to raise such sums as a great war requires.' 



28 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



The prince came, and used our constitution for his 
purpose: he introduced into England the system of 
Dutch finance. The principle of that system was to 
mortgage industry in order to protect property: ab- 
stractedly, nothing can be conceived more unjust; its 
practice in England has been equally injurious. In 
Holland, with a small population engaged in the 
same pursuits, in fact, a nation of bankers, the sys- 
tem was adapted to the circumstances which had 
created it. All shared in the present spoil, and there- 
fore could endure the future burthen. And so to 
this day Holland is sustained, almost solely sustained, 
by the vast capital thus created which still lingers 
among its dykes. But applied to a country in which 
the circumstances were entirely different, to a con- 
siderable and rapidly-increasing population, where 
there was a numerous peasantry, a trading middle 
class struggling into existence, the system of Dutch 
finance, pursued more or less for nearly a century 
and a half, has ended in the degradation of a fet- 
tered and burthened multitude. Nor have the de- 
moralising consequences of the funding system on 
the more favoured classes been less decided. It has 
made debt a national habit; it has made credit the 
ruling power, not the exceptional auxiliary, of all 
transactions; it has introduced a loose, inexact, hap- 
hazard, and dishonest spirit in the conduct of both 
public and private life; a spirit dazzling and yet das- 
tardly; reckless of consequences and yet shrinking 
from responsibility. And in the end, it has so over- 
stimulated the energies of the population to maintain 
the material engagements of the state, and of society 
at large, that the moral condition of the people has 
been entirely lost sight of. 



SYBIL 



29 



A mortgaged aristocracy, a gambling foreign com- 
merce, a home trade founded on a morbid competi- 
tion, and a degraded people; these are great evils, 
but ought perhaps cheerfully to be encountered for 
the greater blessings of civil and religious liberty. 
Yet the first v^ould seem in some degree to depend 
upon our Saxon mode of trial by our peers, upon the 
stipulations of the great Norman charters, upon the 
practice and the statute of Habeas Corpus, a principle 
native to our common law, but established by the 
Stuarts. Not in a careful perusal of the Bill of Rights, 
or in an impartial scrutiny of the subsequent legisla- 
tion of those times, though some diminution of our 
political franchises must be confessed, is it easy to 
discover any increase of our civil privileges. To 
those, indeed, who believe that the English nation (at 
all times a religious and Catholic people, but who even 
in the days of the Plantagenets were anti-papal) were 
in any danger of again falling under the yoke of the 
Pope of Rome in the reign of James II., religious 
liberty was perhaps acceptable, though it took the 
shape of a discipline which at once anathematised a 
great portion of the nation, and, virtually establishing 
Puritanism in Ireland, laid the foundation of those 
mischiefs which are now endangering the empire. 

That the last of the Stuarts had any other object 
in his impolitic manoeuvres than an impracticable 
scheme to blend the two Churches, there is now 
authority to disbelieve. He certainly was guilty of 
the offence of sending an envoy openly to Rome, 
who, by-the-bye, was received by the Pope with 
great discourtesy; and her Majesty Queen Victoria, 
whose Protestantism cannot be doubted, for it is one 
of her chief titles to our homage, has at this time a 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



secret envoy at the same court; and that is the differ- 
ence between them: both ministers doubtless working, 
however fruitlessly, for the same object, the termination 
of those terrible misconceptions, political and religious, 
that have occasioned so many martyrdoms, and so 
many crimes alike to sovereigns and to subjects. 

If James II. had really attempted to re-establish 
Popery in this country, the English people, who had 
no hand in his overthrow, would doubtless soon 
have stirred and secured their * Catholic and Apostolic 
Church,' independent of any foreign dictation; the 
Church to which they still regularly profess their ad- 
herence; and being a practical people, it is possible 
that they might have achieved their object and yet 
retained their native princes; under which circum- 
stances we might have been saved from the triple 
blessings of Venetian politics, Dutch finance, and 
French wars: against which, in their happiest days, 
and with their happiest powers, struggled the three 
greatest of English statesmen, Bolingbroke, Shelburne, 
and, lastly, the son of Chatham. 

We have endeavoured in another work, not we hope 
without something of the impartiality of the future, 
to sketch the character and career of his successors. 
From his death to 1825, the political history of Eng- 
land is a history of great events and little men. The 
rise of Mr. Canning, long kept down by the plebeian 
aristocracy of Mr. Pitt as an adventurer, had shaken 
parties to their centre. His rapid disappearance from 
the scene left both Whigs and Tories in a state of 
disorganisation. The distinctive principles of these 
connections were now difficult to trace. That period 
of public languor which intervenes between the break- 
ing up of parties and the formation of factions now 



SYBIL 



31 



succeeded in England. An exhausted sensualist on 
the throne, who only demanded from his ministers 
repose, a voluptuous aristocracy, and a listless people, 
were content, in the absence of all public conviction 
and national passion, to consign the government of 
the country to a great man, whose decision relieved 
the Sovereign, whose prejudices pleased the nobles, 
and whose achievements dazzled the multitude. 

The Duke of Wellington brought to the post of 
first minister immortal fame; a quality of success 
which would almost seem to include all others. His 
public knowledge was such as might be expected 
from one whose conduct already formed an important 
portion of the history of his country. He had a per- 
sonal and intimate acquaintance with the sovereigns 
and chief statesmen of Europe, a kind of information 
in which EngUsh ministers have generally been de- 
ficient, but without which the management of our 
external affairs must at the best be haphazard. He 
possessed administrative talents of the highest or- 
der. 

The tone of the age, the temper of the country, 
the great qualities and the high character of the min- 
ister, indicated a long and prosperous administration. 
The only individual in his cabinet who, from a 
combination of circumstances rather than from any 
intellectual supremacy over his colleagues, was com- 
petent to be his rival, was content to be his successor. 
In his most aspiring moments, Mr. Peel, in all 
probability, aimed at no higher reach; and with youth 
and the leadership of the House of Commons, one 
has no reason to be surprised at his moderation. The 
conviction that the duke's government would only 
cease with the termination of his public career was 



32 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



so general, that, the moment he was installed in 
office, the Whigs smiled on him; political conciliation 
became the slang of the day, and the fusion of parties 
the babble of clubs and the tattle of boudoirs. 

How comes it, then, that so great a man, in so 
great a position, should have so signally failed; should 
have broken up his government, wrecked his party, 
and so completely annihilated his political position, 
that, even with his historical reputation to sustain 
him, he can since only re-appear in the councils of 
his Sovereign in a subordinate, not to say equivocal, 
character ? 

With all those great qualities which will secure 
him a place in our history not perhaps inferior even 
to Marlborough, the Duke of Wellington has one de- 
ficiency which has been the stumbling-block of his 
civil career. Bishop Burnet, in speculating on the 
extraordinary influence of Lord Shaftesbury, and ac- 
counting how a statesman so inconsistent in his con- 
duct and so false to his confederates should have so 
powerfully controlled his country, observes, ' His 

STRENGTH LAY IN HIS KNOWLEDGE OF ENGLAND.' 

Now that is exactly the kind of knowledge which 
the Duke of Wellington never possessed. 

When the king, finding that in Lord Goderich he 
had a minister who, instead of deciding, asked his 
royal master for advice, sent for the Duke of Welling- 
ton to undertake the government, a change in the 
carriage of his Grace was perceived by some who had 
the opportunity to form an opinion on such a subject. 
If one might venture to use such a word in reference 
to such a man, we might remark, that the duke had 
been somewhat daunted by the selection of Mr. Can- 
ning. It disappointed great hopes, it baffled great 



SYBIL 



33 



plans, and dispelled for a season the conviction that, 
it is believed, had been long maturing in his Grace's 
mind; that he was the man of the age, that his mili- 
tary career had been only a preparation for a civil 
course not less illustrious; and that it was reserved 
for him to control for the rest of his life, undisputed, 
the destinies of a country which was indebted to him 
in no slight degree for its European pre-eminence. 
The death of Mr. Canning revived, the rout of Lord 
Goderich restored, these views. 

Napoleon, at St. Helena, speculating in conversa- 
tion on the future career of his conqueror, asked, 
*What will Wellington do? After all he has done, 
he will not be content to be quiet. He will change 
the dynasty.' 

Had the great exile been better acquainted with the 
real character of our Venetian constitution, he would 
have known that to govern England in 1820, it was 
not necessary to change its dynasty. But the Em- 
peror, though wrong in surmise, was right in the 
main. It was clear that the energies which had twice 
entered Paris as a conqueror and had made kings and 
mediatised princes at Vienna, would not be content 
to subside into ermined insignificance. The duke 
commenced his political tactics early. The cabinet of 
Lord Liverpool, especially during its latter term, was 
the hot-bed of many intrigues; but the obstacles were 
numerous, though the appointing fate, in which his 
Grace believed, removed them. The disappearance of 
Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Canning from the scene was 
alike unexpected. The Duke of Wellington was at 
length prime minister, and no individual ever occupied 
that post more conscious of its power, and more de- 
termined to exercise it. 

14 B. D.— 3 



34 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



This is not the occasion on which we shall at- 
tempt to do justice to a theme so instructive as the 
administration of his Grace. Treated with impartiality 
and sufficient information, it would be an invaluable 
contribution to the stores of our political knowledge 
and national experience. Throughout its brief but ec- 
centric and tumultuous annals we see continual proof, 
how important is that knowledge 'in which lay Lord 
Shaftesbury's strength.' In twenty-four months we 
find an aristocracy estranged, without a people being 
conciliated; while on two several occasions, first, the 
prejudices, and then the pretensions of the middle 
class, were alike treated with contumely. The public 
was astonished at hearing of statesmen of long parlia- 
mentary fame, men round whom the intelligence of 
the nation had gathered for years, if not with confi- 
dence, at least with interest, being expelled from the 
cabinet in a manner not unworthy of Colonel Joyce, 
while their places were filled by second-rate soldiers, 
whose very names were unknown to the great body 
of the people, and who, under no circumstances, 
should have aspired beyond the government of a 
colony. This administration, which commenced in 
arrogance, ended in panic. There was an interval of 
perplexity, when occurred the most ludicrous instance 
extant of an attempt at coalition; subordinates were 
promoted while negotiations were still pending with 
their chiefs; and these negotiations, undertaken so 
crudely, were terminated in pique, in a manner which 
added to political disappointment personal offence. 
When even his parasites began to look gloomy, the 
duke had a specific that was to restore all, and hav- 
ing allowed every element of power to escape his 
grasp, he believed he could balance everything by a 



SYBIL 



35 



Beer Bill. The growl of reform was heard, but it was 
not very fierce. There was yet time to save himself. 
His Grace precipitated a revolution which might have 
been delayed for half a century, and never need have 
occurred in so aggravated a form. He rather fled 
than retired. He commenced his ministry like Bren- 
nus, and finished it like the tall Gaul sent to murder 
the rival of Sylla, but who dropped his weapon before 
the undaunted gaze of his intended victim. 

Lord Marney was spared the pang of the catas- 
trophe. Promoted to a high office in the household, 
and still hoping that, by the aid of his party, it was 
yet destined for him to achieve the hereditary purpose 
of his famity, he died in the full faith of dukism; 
worshipped the duke, and believing that ultimately he 
should himself become a duke. It was under all the 
circumstances a euthanasia; he expired leaning as it 
were on his white wand and babbling of strawberry- 
leaves. 



CHAPTER IV. 




An Important State Secret. 

Y DEAR Charles/ said Lady Marney 
to Egremont, the morning after the 
Derby, as breakfasting with her in 
her boudoir, he detailed some of 
the circumstances of the race, 'we 
must forget your naughty horse. I 
sent you a little note this morning, because I wished 
to see you most particularly before you went out. 
Affairs,' continued Lady Marney, first looking round 
the chamber to see whether there were any fairy 
listening to her state secrets, 'affairs are critical.' 

'No doubt of that,' thought Egremont, the horrid 
phantom of settling-day seeming to obtrude itself be- 
tween his mother and himself; but, not knowing pre- 
cisely at what she was driving, he merely sipped his 
tea, and innocently replied, 'Why?' 

'There will be a dissolution,' said Lady Marney. 
'What! are we coming in?' 
Lady Marney shook her head. 
'The present men will not better their majority,* 
said Egremont. 

'1 hope not,' said Lady Marney. 
'Why, you always said that, with another general 
election, we must come in, whoever dissolved.' 
(36) 



SYBIL 



37 



* But that was with the court in our favour/ re- 
joined Lady Marney, mournfully. 

* What I has the king changed?' said Egremont. *I 
thought it was all right.' 

•AH was right,' said Lady Marney, 'These men 
would have been turned out again, had he only lived 
three months longer.' 

* Lived 1' exclaimed Egremont. 

*Yes,' said Lady Marney; 'the king is dying.' 

Slowly delivering himself of an ejaculation, Egre- 
mont leant back in his chair. 

'He may live a month,' said Lady Marney; 'he 
cannot live two. It is the greatest of secrets; known 
at this moment to only four individuals, and I com- 
municate it to you, my dear Charles, in that absolute 
confidence which I hope will always subsist between 
us, because it is an event that may greatly affect your 
career.' 

'How so, my dear mother .J^' 

'Marbury! I have settled with Mr. Tadpole that 
you should stand for the old borough. With the gov- 
ernment in our hands, as 1 had anticipated, at the 
general election success I think was certain: under 
the circumstances which we must encounter, the 
struggle will be more severe, but I think we shall do 
it: and it will be a happy day for me to have our own 
again, and to see you in Parliament, my dear child.' 

'Well, my dear mother, I should like very much 
to be in Parliament, and particularly to sit for the old 
borough; but 1 fear the contest will be very expensive,' 
said Egremont, inquiringly. 

'Oh! 1 have no doubt,' said Lady Marney, 'that 
we shall have some monster of the middle class, some 
tinker or tailor or candlestick-maker, with his long 



38 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



purse, preaching reform and practising corruption; 
exactly as the Liberals did under Walpole: bribery 
was unknown in the time of the Stuarts; but we 
have a capital registration, Mr. Tadpole tells me. 
And a young candidate with the old name will tell,' 
said Lady Marney, with a smile: 'and 1 shall go 
down and canvass, and we must do what we can.' 

'1 have great faith in your canvassing,' said Egre- 
mont; 'but still at the same time, the powder and 
shot — ' 

'Are essential,' said Lady Marney, '1 know it, in 
these corrupt days; but Marney will of course supply 
those. It is the least he can do: regaining the family 
influence, and letting us hold up our heads again. 1 
shall write to him the moment 1 am justified,' said Lady 
Marney, 'perhaps you will do so yourself, Charles.' 

'Why, considering I have not seen my brother 
for two years, and we did not part on the best pos- 
sible terms — ' 

* But that is all forgotten.' 

'By your good offices, dear mother, who are al- 
ways doing good: and yet,' continued Egremont, 
after a moment's pause, 'I am not disposed to write 
to Marney, especially to ask a favour.' 

'Well, I will write,' said Lady Marney; 'though I 
cannot admit it as any favour. Perhaps it would be 
better that you should see him first. I cannot under- 
stand why he keeps so at the Abbey. 1 am sure I 
found it a melancholy place enough in my time. I 
wish you had gone down there, Charles, if it had 
been only for a few days.' 

'Well, I did not, my dear mother, and 1 cannot 
go now. I shall trust to you. But are you quite 
sure that the king is going to die?' 



SYBIL 



39 



* I repeat to you, it is certain,* replied Lady Mar- 
ney, in a lowered voice, but decided tone; 'certain, 
certain, certain. My authority cannot be mistaken: 
but no consideration in the world must throw you off 
your guard at this moment; breathe not the shadow 
of what you know.' 

At this moment a servant entered, and delivered a 
note to Lady Marney, who read it with an ironical 
smile. It was from Lady St. Julians, and ran thus: 

'Most confidential. 
'My Dearest Lady Marney, It is a false report ; he 
is ill, but not dangerously; the hay fever; he always 
has it; nothing more; I will tell my authority when 
we meet; I dare not write it. It will satisfy you. I 
am going on with my quadrille. 

' Most affectionately yours, 

'A. St. J.' 

'Poor woman! she is always wrong,' said Lady 
Marney, throwing the note to Egremont. ' Her quad- 
rille will never take place, which is a pity, as it is to 
consist only of beauties and eldest sons. I suppose 
I must send her a line;' and she wrote: 

' My Dearest Lady St. Julians, How good of you 
to write to me, and send me such cheering news! I 
have no doubt you are right; you always are. I 
know he had the hay fever last year. How fortunate 
for your quadrille, and how charming it will be! Let 
me know if you hear anything further from your un- 
mentionable quarter. 

'Ever your affectionate 

'C. M.' 



CHAPTER V. 




The Idle Rich. ^ 

ORD MARNEYleft several children; 
his heir was five years older than 
the next son, Charles, who at the 
period of his father's death was 
at Christchurch, and had just en- 
tered the last year of his minority. 
Attaining that age, he received the sum of fifteen 
thousand pounds, his portion, a third of which amount 
his expenditure had then already anticipated. Egre- 
mont had been brought up in the enjoyment of every 
comfort and every luxury that refinement could de- 
vise and wealth furnish. He was a favourite child. 
His parents emulated each other in pampering and 
indulging him. Every freak was pardoned, every whim 
was gratified. He might ride what horses he liked, 
and if he broke their knees, what in another would 
have been deemed a flagrant sin, was in him held 
only a proof of reckless spirit. If he were not a thor- 
oughly selfish and altogether wilful person, but very 
much the reverse, it was not the fault of his parents, 
but rather the operation of a benignant nature that 
had bestowed on him a generous spirit and a tender 
heart, though accompanied with a dangerous suscepti- 
(40) 



SYBIL 



41 



bility that made him the child and creature of im- 
pulse, and seemed to set at defiance even the course 
of time to engraft on his nature any quality of prud- 
ence. 

The tone of Eton in the days of Charles Egremont 
was not of the high character which at present dis- 
tinguishes that community. It was the unforeseen 
eve of the great change, that, whatever was its pur- 
pose or have been its immediate results, at least gave 
the first shock to the pseudo-aristocracy of this coun- 
try. Then all was blooming; sunshine and odour; 
not a breeze disturbing the meridian splendour. Then 
the world was not only made for a few, but a very 
few. One could almost tell upon one's fingers the 
happy families who could do anything, and might 
have everything. A schoolboy's ideas of the Church 
then were fat livings, and of the State rotten boroughs. 
To do nothing and get something formed a boy's ideal 
of a manly career. There was nothing in the lot, lit- 
tle in the temperament, of Charles Egremont, to make 
him an exception to the multitude. Gaily and se- 
curely he floated on the brilliant stream. Popular at 
school, idolised at home, the present had no cares, 
and the future secured him a family seat in Parlia- 
ment the moment he entered life, and the inheritance 
of a glittering post at court in due time, as its legiti- 
mate consequence. Enjoyment, not ambition, seemed 
the principle of his existence. The contingency of a 
mitre, the certainty of rich preferment, would not 
reconcile him to the self-sacrifice which, to a certain 
degree, was required from a priest, even in those 
days of rampant Erastianism. He left the colonies as 
the spoil of his younger brothers; his own ideas of a 
profession being limited to a barrack in a London 



42 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



park varied by visits to Windsor. But there was 
time enough to think of these things. 

He enjoyed Oxford as he had Eton. Here his allow- 
ance from his father was extravagant, though greatly 
increased by tithes from his mother's pin-money. 
While he was pursuing his studies, hunting and boat- 
ing, driving tandems, riding matches, tempering his 
energies in the crapulence of boyish banquets, and 
anticipating life, at the risk of expulsion, in a misera- 
ble mimicry of metropolitan dissipation, dukism, that 
was supposed to be eternal, suddenly crashed. 

The Reform Act has not placed the administration 
of our affairs in abler hands than conducted them 
previously to the passing of the measure, for the most 
efficient members of the present cabinet, with some 
few exceptions, and those attended by peculiar cir- 
cumstances, were ministers before the Reform Act 
was contemplated. Nor has that memorable statute 
created a Parliament of a higher reputation for public 
qualities, such as politic ability, and popular eloquence, 
and national consideration, than was furnished by 
the old scheme. On the contrary, one house of 
Parliament has been irremediably degraded into the 
decaying position of a mere court of registry, pos- 
sessing great privileges, on condition that it never 
exercises them; while the other chamber, that, at the 
first blush, and to the superficial, exhibits symptoms 
of almost unnatural vitality, engrossing in its orbit 
all the business of the country, assumes on a more 
studious inspection somewhat of the character of a 
select vestry, fulfilling municipal rather than imperial 
offices, and beleaguered by critical and clamorous mil- 
lions, who cannot comprehend why a privileged and 
exclusive senate is requisite to perform functions 



SYBIL 



43 



which immediately concern all, which most personally 
comprehend, and which many in their civic spheres 
believe they could accomplish in a manner not less 
satisfactory, though certainly less ostentatious. 

But if it have not furnished us with abler admin- 
istrators or a more illustrious senate, the Reform Act 
may have exercised on the country at large a beneficial 
influence. Has it? Has it elevated the tone of the 
public mind ? Has it cultured the popular sensibilities 
to noble and ennobling ends ? Has it proposed to the 
people of England a higher test of national respect 
and confidence than the debasing qualification uni- 
versally prevalent in this country since the fatal intro- 
duction of the system of Dutch finance? Who will 
pretend it? If a spirit of rapacious covetousness, 
desecrating all the humanities of life, has been the 
besetting sin of England for the last century and a 
half, since the passing of the Reform Act the altar of 
Mammon has blazed with triple worship. To acquire, 
to accumulate, to plunder each other by virtue of 
philosophic phrases, to propose a Utopia to consist 
only of WEALTH and toil, this has been the breathless 
business of enfranchised England for the last twelve 
years, until we are startled from our voracious strife 
by the wail of intolerable serfage. 

Are we then to conclude that the only effect of 
the Reform Act has been to create in this country 
another of those class interests which we now so 
loudly accuse as the obstacles to general amelioration ? 
Not exactly that. The indirect influence of the Reform 
Act has been not inconsiderable, and may eventually 
lead to vast consequences. It set men a-thinking; it 
enlarged the horizon of political experience; it led the 
public mind to ponder somewhat on the circumstances 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



of our national history; to pry into the beginnings of 
some social anomalies, which, they found, were not 
so ancient as they had been led to believe, and which 
had their origin in causes very different from what 
they had been educated to credit; and insensibly it 
created and prepared a popular intelligence to which 
one can appeal, no longer hopelessly, in an attempt 
to dispel the mysteries with which for nearly three 
centuries it has been the labour of party writers to 
involve a national history, and without the dispersion 
of which no political position can be understood and 
no social evil remedied. 

The events of 1830 did not produce any change in 
the modes of thought and life of Charles Egremont. 
He took his political cue from his mother, who was 
his constant correspondent. Lady Marney was a dis- 
tinguished *stateswoman,' as they called Lady Carlisle 
in Charles I.'s time, a great friend of Lady St. Julians, 
and one of the most eminent and impassioned vo- 
taries of dukism. Her first impression on the over- 
throw of her hero was astonishment at the impertinence 
of his adversaries, mingled with some lofty pity for 
their silly ambition and short-lived career. She existed 
for a week in the delightful expectation of his Grace 
being sent for again, and informed every one in con- 
fidence, that 'these people could not form a cabinet.' 
When the tocsin of peace, reform, and retrenchment 
sounded, she smiled bitterly; was sorry for poor Lord 
Grey, of whom she had thought better, and gave 
them a year, adding, with consoling malice, 'that it 
would be another Canning affair.' At length came 
the Reform Bill itself, and no one laughed more 
heartily than Lady Marney; not even the House of 
Commons to whom it was presented. 



SYBIL 



45 



The bill was thrown out, and Lady Marney gave 
a grand ball to celebrate the event, and to compen- 
sate the London shopkeepers for the loss of their pro- 
jected franchise. Lady Marney was preparing to 
resume her duties at court, when, to her great sur- 
prise, the firing of cannon announced the dissolution 
of Parliament. She turned pale; she was too much in 
the secrets of Tadpole and Taper to be deceived as 
to the consequences; she sank into her chair, and de- 
nounced Lord Grey as a traitor to his order. 

Lady Marney, who for six months had been writ- 
ing to her son at Oxford the most charming letters, 
full of fun, quizzing the whole Cabinet, now an- 
nounced to Egremont that a revolution was inevitable, 
that all property would be instantly confiscated, the 
poor deluded king led to the block or sent over to 
Hanover at the best, and the whole of the nobility 
and principal gentry, and every one who possessed 
anything, guillotined without remorse. 

Whether his friends were immediately to resume 
power, or whether their estates ultimately were to be 
confiscated, the practical conclusion to Charles Egre- 
mont appeared to be the same. ' Carpe diem.' He 
therefore pursued his career at Oxford unchanged, and 
entered life in the year 1833, a younger son with ex- 
travagant tastes and expensive habits, with a reputation 
for lively talents though uncultivated, for his acquisitions 
at Eton had been quite puerile, and subsequently he 
had not become a student, — with many manly accom- 
plishments, and with a mien and visage that at once 
took the fancy and enlisted the affections. Indeed, a 
physiologist would hardly have inferred from the coun- 
tenance and structure of Egremont the career he had 
pursued, or the character which attached to him. 



46 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



The general cast and expression of his features when 
in repose was pensive; an air of refinement distin- 
guished his well-moulded brow; his mouth breathed 
sympathy, and his rich brown eye gleamed with 
tenderness. The sweetness of his voice in speaking 
was in harmony with this organisation. 

Two years passed in the most refined circles of 
our society exercised a beneficial influence on the gen- 
eral tone of Egremont, and may be said to have fin- 
ished his education. He had the good sense and the 
good taste not to permit his predilection for sports to 
degenerate into slang; he yielded himself to the deli- 
cate and profitable authority of woman, and, as ever 
happens, it softened his manners and brightened his 
wit. He was fortunate in having a clever mother, 
and he appreciated this inestimable possession. Lady 
Marney had great knowledge of society, and some ac- 
quaintance with human nature, which she fancied she 
had fathomed to its centre; she piqued herself upon 
her tact, and indeed she was very quick, but she was 
so energetic that her art did not always conceal itself; 
very worldly, she was nevertheless not devoid of im- 
pulse; she was animated, and would have been ex- 
tremely agreeable, if she had not restlessly aspired to 
wit; and would certainly have exercised much more 
influence in society if she had not been so anxious 
to show it. Nevertheless, still with many personal 
charms, a frank and yet, if need be, a finished man- 
ner, a quick brain, a lively tongue, a buoyant spirit, 
and a great social position, Lady Marney was univer- 
sally and extremely popular; and adored by her chil- 
dren, for she was a mother most affectionate and true. 

When Egremont was four-and-twenty, he fell in 
love; a real passion. He had fluttered like others 



SYBIL 



47 



from flower to flower, and like others had often 
fancied the last perfume the sweetest, and then had 
flown away. But now he was entirely captivated. 
The divinity was a new beauty; the whole world 
raving of her. Egremont also advanced. The Lady 
Arabella was not only beautiful: she was clever, fas- 
cinating. Her presence was inspiration; at least for 
Egremont. She condescended to be pleased by him; 
she signalised him by her notice; their names were 
mentioned together. Egremont indulged in flattering 
dreams. He regretted he had not pursued a profes- 
sion; he regretted he had impaired his slender patri- 
mony: thought of love in a cottage, and renting a 
manor; thought of living a good deal with his mother, 
and a little with his brother; thought of the law and 
the church; thought once of New Zealand. The 
favourite of nature and of fashion, this was the first 
time in the life of Egremont that he had been made 
conscious that there was something in his position 
which, with all its superficial brilliancy, might pre- 
pare for him, when youth had fled and the blaze of 
society had grown dim, a drear and bitter lot. 

He was roused from his reveries by a painful change 
in the demeanour of his adored. The mother of the 
Lady Arabella was alarmed. She liked her daughter 
to be admired even by younger sons, when they 
were distinguished, but only at a distance. Mr. Egre- 
mont's name had been mentioned too often. It had 
appeared coupled with her daughter's even in a Sun- 
day paper. The most decisive measures were requisite, 
and they were taken. Still smiling when they met, 
still kind when they conversed, it seemed by some 
magic dexterity which even baffled Egremont, that 
their meetings every day grew rarer, and their op- 



48 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



portunities for conversation less frequent. At the end 
of the season, the Lady Arabella selected from a crowd 
of admirers equally qualified, a young peer of great 
estate, and of the *old nobility,' a circumstance which, 
as her grandfather had only been an East India di- 
rector, was very gratifying to the bride. 

This unfortunate passion of Charles Egremont, 
with its mortifying circumstances and consequences, 
was just that earliest shock in one's life which occurs 
to all of us; which first makes us think. We have 
all experienced that disheartening catastrophe when 
the illusions first vanish; and our baulked imagination, 
or our mortified vanity, first intimates to us that we 
are neither infalUble nor irresistible. Happily 'tis the 
season of youth for which the first lessons of ex- 
perience are destined; and, bitter and intolerable as is 
the first blight of our fresh feelings, the sanguine im- 
pulse of early life bears us along. Our first scrape 
generally leads to our first travel. Disappointment 
requires change of air; desperation, change of scene. 
Egremont quitted his country, never to return to it 
again; and returned to it after a year and a-halfs 
absence a much wiser man. Having left England in a 
serious mood, and having already tasted with toler- 
able freedom of the pleasures and frivolities of life, he 
was not in an inapt humour to observe, to enquire, 
and to reflect. The new objects that surrounded him 
excited his intelligence; he met, which indeed is the 
principal advantage of travel, remarkable men, whose 
conversation opened his mind. His mind was worth 
opening. Energies began to stir of which he had not 
been conscious; awakened curiosity led him to inves- 
tigate and to read; he discovered that, when he 
imagined his education was completed, it had in fact 



SYBIL 



not commenced; and that, although he had been at 
a public school and a university, he in fact knew 
nothing. To be conscious that you are ignorant is a 
great step to knowledge. Before an emancipated in- 
tellect and an expanding intelligence, the great system 
of exclusive manners and exclusive feelings in which 
he had been born and nurtured, began to tremble; the 
native generosity of his heart recoiled at a recurrence 
to that arrogant and frigid life, alike devoid of sym- 
pathy and real grandeur. 

In the early spring of 1837, Egremont re-entered 
the world, where he had once sparkled, and which 
he had once conceived to comprise within its circle 
all that could interest or occupy man. His mother, 
delighted at finding him again under her roof, had re- 
moved some long-standing coolness between him and 
his elder brother; his former acquaintance greeted him 
with cordiality, and introduced him to the new heroes 
who had sprung up during the season of his absence. 
Apparently Egremont was not disinclined to pursue, 
though without eagerness, the same career that had 
originally engaged him. He frequented assemblies, 
and lingered in clubs; rode in the park, and lounged 
at the opera. But there was this difference in his 
existence before and since his travels: he was now 
conscious he wanted an object; and was ever musing 
over action, though as yet ignorant how to act. Per- 
haps it was this want of being roused that led him, 
it may be for distraction, again to the turf. It was a 
pursuit that seemed to him more real than the life of 
saloons, full of affectation, perverted ideas, and fac- 
titious passions. Whatever might be the impulse, 
Egremont however was certainly not slightly inter- 
ested in the Derby; and, though by no means uhin- 

14 B. D.— 4 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



structed in the mysteries of the turf, had felt such 
confidence in his information, that, with his usual 
ardour, he had backed to a considerable amount the 
horse that ought to have won, but which nevertheless 
only ran second. 



CHAPTER VI. 




allowed to creep 
Majesty has been 



Le Roi est Mort; Vive la Reine!' 

OTWITHSTANDING the confidence 
of Lady St. Julians and her un- 
rivalled information, the health of 
the king did not improve: but 
still it was the hay fever, only the 
hay fever. An admission had been 
into the Court Circular, that * his 
slightly indisposed within the last 
few days;' but then it was soon followed by a posi- 
tive assurance, that his Majesty's favourite and long- 
matured resolution to give a state banquet to the 
knights of the four orders was immediately to be car- 
ried into effect. Lady St. Julians had the first infor- 
mation of this important circumstance; it confirmed 
her original conviction; she determined to go on with 
her quadrille. Egremont, with something interesting 
at stake himself, was staggered by this announcement, 
and by Lady St. Julians' unshaken faith. He con- 
sulted his mother. Lady Marney shook her head. 
*Poor woman!' said Lady Marney, *she is always 
wrong. I know,' continued her ladyship, placing her 
finger to her lip, *that Prince Esterhazy has been 
pressing his long-postponed investiture as a Grand 

(50 



52 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Cross, in order that he may dine at this very banquet; 
and it has been announced to him that it is impos- 
sible, the king's health will not admit of it. When a 
simple investiture is impossible, a state banquet to the 
four orders is very probable. No,' said Lady Marney 
with a sigh; Mt is a great blow for all of us. but it 
is no use shutting our eyes to the fact. The poor 
dear king will never show again.' 

And about a week after this there appeared the 
first bulletin. From that instant, though the gullish 
multitude studied the daily reports with grave inter- 
est, their hopes and speculations and arrangements 
changing with each phrase, for the initiated there was 
no suspense. All knew that it was over; and Lady 
St. Julians, giving up her quadrille, began to look 
about for seats in Parliament for her sons. 

'What a happiness it is to have a clever mother!' 
exclaimed Egremont, as he pondered over the returns 
of his election agent. Lady Marney, duly warned of 
the impending catastrophe, was experiencing all the ad- 
vantages of prior information. It delighted her to meet 
Lady St. Julians driving distractedly about town, calling 
at clubs, closeted with red-tapers, making ingenious 
combinations that would not work,. by means of which 
some one of her sons was to stand in coalition with 
some rich parvenu; to pay none of the expenses and 
yet to come in first. And all this time. Lady Marney, 
serene and smiling, had the daily pleasure of assuring 
Lady St. Julians what a relief it was to her that 
Charles had fixed on his place. It had been arranged 
indeed these weeks past; 'but then, you know,' 
concluded Lady Marney in the sweetest voice and 
with a blandishing glance, M never did believe in 
that hay fever.' 



SYBIL 



S3 



In the meantime the impending event changed the 
whole aspect of the political world. The king dying 
before the new registration was the greatest blow to 
pseudo-Toryism since his Majesty, calling for a hack- 
ney coach, went down and dissolved Parliament in 
1 83 1. It was calculated by the Tadpoles and Tapers 
that a dissolution by Sir Robert, after the registration 
of 1837, would give him a clear majority, not too 
great a one, but large enough; a manageable majority; 
some five-and-twenty or thirty men, who with a 
probable peerage or two dangling in the distance, 
half-a-dozen positive baronetcies, the Customs for 
their constituents, and Court balls for their wives, 
might be induced to save the state. O England! 
glorious and ancient realm, the fortunes of thy polity 
are indeed strange! The wisdom of the Saxons, Nor- 
man valour, the statecraft of the Tudors, the national 
sympathies of the Stuarts, the spirit of the latter 
Guelphs struggling against their enslaved sovereignty, 
these are the high qualities that for a thousand years 
have secured thy national development. And now all 
thy memorial dynasties end in the huckstering rule 
of some thirty unknown and anonymous jobbers! 
The Thirty at Athens were at least tyrants. They 
were marked men. But the obscure majority, who, 
under our present constitution, are destined to govern 
England, are as secret as a Venetian conclave. Yet 
on their dark voices all depends. Would you pro- 
mote or prevent some great measure that may affect 
the destinies of unborn millions, and the future char- 
acter of the people: take, for example, a system of 
national education: the minister must apportion the 
plunder to the illiterate clan, the scum that floats on 
the surface of a party; or hold out the prospect of 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



honours, which are only honourable when in their 
transmission they impart and receive lustre; when 
they are the meed of public virtue and public services, 
and the distinction of worth and of genius. It is im- 
possible that the system of the Thirty can long en- 
dure in an age of inquiry and agitated spirit Hke the 
present. Such a system may suit the balanced inter- 
ests and the periodical and alternate command of 
rival oligarchical connections; but it can subsist only 
by the subordination of the Sovereign and the degra- 
dation of the multitude; and cannot accord with an 
age whose genius will soon confess that power and 
the people are both divine. 

*He can't last ten days,' said a Whig secretary 
of the treasury with a triumphant glance at Mr. 
Taper as they met in Pall Mall; * you're out for our 
lives.' 

'Don't you make too sure for yourselves,' rejoined 
in despair the dismayed Taper. ' It does not follow 
that because we are out, that you are in.' 

*How do you mean.?' 

* There is such a person as Lord Durham in the 
world,' said Mr. Taper very solemnly. 
*Pish,' said the secretary. 

*You may pish,' said Mr. Taper, 'but, if we have 
a Radical government, as I believe and hope, they 
will not be able to get up the steam as they did in 
'31; and what with Church and corn together, and 
the Queen Dowager, we may go to the country with 
as good a cry as some other persons.' 

M will back Melbourne against the field now,' said 
the secretary. 

'Lord Durham dined at Kensington on Thursday,' 
said Taper, ' and not a Whig present.' 



SYBIL 



55 



'Ay; Durham talks very fine at dinner,' said the 
secretary, 'but he has no real go in him. When 
there is a Prince of Wales, Lord Melbourne means to 
make Durham governor to the heir apparent, and 
that will keep him quiet/ 

'What do you hear?' said Mr. Tadpole, joining 
them; 'I am told he has quite rallied.' 

'Don't you flatter yourself,' said the secretary. 

'Well, we shall hear what they say on the hus- 
tings,' said Tadpole, looking boldly. 

'Who's afraid!' said the secretary. 'No, no, my 
dear fellow, you are dead beat; the stake is worth 
playing for, and don't suppose we are such flats as 
to lose the race for want of jockeying. Your hum- 
bugging registration will never do against a new 
reign. Our great men mean to shell out, I tell you; 
we have got Croucher; we will denounce the Carlton 
and corruption all over the kingdom; and if that 
won't do, we will swear till we are black in the 
face, that the King of Hanover is engaged in a plot 
to dethrone our young Queen:' and the triumphant 
secretary wished the worthy pair good morning. 

'They certainly have a good cry,' said Taper, 
mournfully. 

'After all, the registration might be better,' said 
Tadpole, 'but still it is a good one.' 

The daily bulletins became more significant; the 
crisis was evidently at hand. A dissolution of Parlia- 
ment at any time must occasion great excitement; 
combined with a new reign, it inflames the passions 
of every class of the community. Even the poor 
begin to hope; the old, wholesome superstition that 
the Sovereign can exercise power, still lingers; and 
the suffering multitude are fain to believe that its 



56 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



remedial character may be about to be revealed in 
their instance. As for the aristocracy in a new reign, 
they are all in a flutter. A bewildering vision of 
coronets, stars, and ribbons; smiles, and places at 
Court, haunts their noontide speculations and their 
midnight dreams. Then we must not forget the 
numberless instances in which the coming event is 
deemed to supply the long-sought opportunity of dis- 
tinction, or the long-dreaded cause of utter discomfi- 
ture; the hundreds, the thousands, who mean to get 
into Parliament, the units who dread getting out. 
What a crashing change from lounging in St. James' 
Street to sauntering on Boulogne pier; or, after dining 
at Brooks's and supping at Crockford's, to be saved 
from destruction by the friendly interposition that 
sends you in an official capacity to the marsupial 
sympathies of Sydney or Swan River! 

Now is the time for the men to come forward 
who have claims; claims for spending their money, 
which nobody asked them to do, but which of course 
they only did for the sake of the party. They never 
wrote for their party, or spoke for their party, or 
gave their party any other vote than their own; but 
they urge their claims, to something; a commissioner- 
ship of anything, or a consulship anywhere; if no 
place to be had, they are ready to take it out in 
dignities. They once looked to the privy council, but 
would now be content with an hereditary honour; if 
they can have neither, they will take a clerkship in the 
treasury for a younger son. Perhaps they may get that 
in time; at present they go away growling with a 
gaugership; or having with desperate dexterity at length 
contrived to transform a tidewaiter into a landwaiter. 
But there is nothing like asking, except refusing. 



SYBIL 



57 



Hark! it tolls! All is over. The great bell of the 
metropolitan cathedral announces the death of the last 
son of George 111. who probably will ever reign in 
England. He was a good man: with feelings and 
sympathies; deficient in culture rather than ability; 
with a sense of duty; and with something of the 
conception of what should be the character of an 
English monarch. Peace to his manes! We are 
summoned to a different scene. 

In a palace in a garden, not in a haughty keep, 
proud with the fame but dark with the violence of 
ages; not in a regal pile, bright with the splendour, 
but soiled with the intrigues of courts and factions; 
in a palace in a garden, meet scene for youth, and 
innocence, and beauty, came a voice that told the 
maiden that she must ascend her throne! 

The council of England is summoned for the first 
time within her bowers. There are assembled the 
prelates and captains and chief men of her realm; the 
priests of the religion that consoles, the heroes of the 
sword that has conquered, the votaries of the craft 
that has decided the fate of empires; men grey with 
thought, and fame, and age; who are the stewards of 
divine mysteries, who have toiled in secret cabinets, 
who have encountered in battle the hosts of Europe, 
who have struggled in the less merciful strife of 
aspiring senates; men too, some of them, lords of a 
thousand vassals and chief proprietors of provinces, yet 
not one of them whose heart does not at this mo- 
ment tremble as he awaits the first presence of the 
maiden who must now ascend her throne. 

A hum of half-suppressed conversation which would 
attempt to conceal the excitement, which some of the 
greatest of them have since acknowledged, fills that 



58 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



brilliant assemblage; that sea of plumes, and glittering 
stars, and gorgeous dresses. Hush! the portals open; 
she comes; the silence is as deep as that of a noon- 
tide forest. Attended for a moment by her royal 
mother and the ladies of her court, who bow and then 
retire, Victoria ascends her throne; a girl, alone, and 
for the first time, amid an assemblage of men. 

In a sweet and thrilling voice, and with a composed 
mien which indicates rather the absorbing sense of 
august duty than an absence of emotion. The Queen 
announces her accession to the throne of her ances- 
tors, and her humble hope that divine Providence will 
guard over the fulfilment of her lofty trust. 

The prelates and captains and chief men of her 
realm then advance to the throne, and, kneeling be- 
fore her, pledge their troth, and take the sacred oaths 
of allegiance and supremacy. 

Allegiance to one who rules over the land that 
the great Macedonian could not conquer; and over a 
continent of which even Columbus never dreamed: 
to the Queen of every sea, and of nations in every 
zone. 

It is not of these that 1 would speak; but of a 
nation nearer her footstool, and which at this mo- 
ment looks to her with anxiety, with affection, per- 
haps with hope. Fair and serene, she has the blood 
and beauty of the Saxon. Will it be her proud des- 
tiny at length to bear relief to suffering millions, and, 
with that soft hand, which might inspire troubadours 
and guerdon knights, break the last links in the chain 
of Saxon thraldom ? 



CHAPTER VII. 




Marney Abbey. 

HE building which was still called 
Marney Abbey, though remote from 
the site of the ancient monastery, 
was an extensive structure raised 
at the latter end of the reign of 
lames I., and in the stately and pic- 
turesque style of that age. Placed on a noble elevation 
in the centre of an extensive and well-wooded park, 
it presented a front with two projecting wings of 
equal dimensions with the centre, so that the form of 
the building was that of a quadrangle, less one of its 
sides. Its ancient lattices had been removed, and the 
present windows, though convenient, accorded little 
with the structure; the old entrance door in the centre 
of the building, however, still remained, a wondrous 
specimen of fantastic carving: Ionic columns of black 
oak, with a profusion of fruits and flowers, and heads 
of stags and sylvans. The whole of the building was 
crowned with a considerable pediment of what seemed 
at the first glance fanciful open-work, but which, ex- 
amined more nearly, offered in gigantic letters the 
motto of the house of Marney. The portal opened to 
a hall such as is now rarely found; with the dais, 

(59) 



6o BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



the screen, the gallery, and the buttery-hatch all per- 
fect, and all of carved black oak. Modern luxury, 
and the refined taste of the lady of the late lord, had 
made Mamey Abbey as remarkable for its comfort 
and pleasantness of accommodation as for its ancient 
state and splendour. The apartments were in general 
furnished with all the cheerful ease and brilliancy of 
the modern mansion of a noble, but the grand gallery 
of the seventeenth century was still preserved, and 
was used on great occasions as the chief reception- 
room. You ascended the principal staircase to reach 
it through a long corridor. It occupied the whole 
length of one of the wings; was one hundred feet 
long, and forty-five feet broad, its walls hung with a 
collection of choice pictures rich in history; while the 
Axminster carpets, the cabinets, carved tables, and 
variety of easy chairs, ingeniously grouped, imparted 
even to this palatian chamber a lively and habitable air. 

Lord Marney was several years the senior of Charles 
Egremont, yet still a young man. He was handsome; 
there was indeed a general resemblance between the 
brothers, though the expression of their countenances 
was entirely different; of the same height and air, and 
throughout the features a certain family cast: but here 
the likeness ceased. The countenance of Lord Marney 
bespoke the character of his mind; cynical, devoid of 
sentiment, arrogant, literal, hard. He had no imagina- 
tion, had exhausted his slight native feeling; but 
he was acute, disputatious, and firm even to obstinacy. 
Though his early education had been imperfect, he 
had subsequently read a good deal, especially in 
French literature. He had formed his mind by Hel- 
vetius, whose system he deemed irrefutable, and in 
whom alone he had faith. Armed with the principles 



SYBIL 



6i 



of his great master, he believed he could pass through 
existence in adamantine armour, and always gave you 
in the business of life the idea of a man who was 
conscious you were trying to take him in, and rather 
respected you for it, but the working of whose cold 
unkind eye defied you. 

There never had been excessive cordiality between 
the brothers even in their boyish days, and shortly 
after Egremont's entrance into life they had become 
estranged. They were to meet now for the first time 
since Egremont's return from the continent. Their 
mother had arranged their reconciliation. They were 
to meet as if no misunderstanding had ever existed 
between them; it was specially stipulated by Lord 
Marney that there was to be no 'scene.* Apprised 
of Egremont's impending arrival, Lord Marney was 
careful to be detained late that day at petty sessions, 
and entered the room only a few minutes before din- 
ner was announced, where he found Egremont not 
only with the countess and a young lady who was 
staying with her, but with additional bail against any 
ebullition of sentiment in the shape of the vicar of 
Marney, and a certain Captain Grouse, who was a 
kind of aide-de-camp of the earl; killed birds and carved 
them; played billiards with him and lost; had, indeed, 
every accomplishment that could please woman or 
ease man; could sing, dance, draw, make artificial 
flies, break horses, exercise a supervision over stewards 
and bailiffs, and make everybody comfortable by tak- 
ing everything on his own shoulders. 

Lady Marney had received Egremont in a manner 
which expressed the extreme satisfaction she experi- 
enced at finding him once more beneath his brother's 
roof When he arrived, indeed, he would have pre- 



62 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

ferred to have been shown at once to his rooms, but 
a message immediately delivered expressed the wish 
of his sister-in-law at once to see him. She received 
him alone and with great warmth. She was beauti- 
ful and soft as May; a glowing yet delicate face; rich 
brown hair, and large blue eyes; not yet a mother, 
but with something of the dignity of the matron 
blending with the lingering timidity of the girl. 

Egremont was glad to join his sister-in-law again 
in the drawing-room before dinner. He seated him- 
self by her side, and in answer to her enquiries was 
giving her some narrative of his travels; the vicar, 
who was Low Church, was shaking his head at Lady 
Marney's young friend, who was enlarging on the 
excellence of Mr. Paget's tales; while Captain Grouse, 
vin a stiff white neckcloth, tight pantaloons to show 
his celebrated legs, transparent stockings and polished 
shoes, was throwing himself into attitudes in the 
background, and, with a zeal amounting almost to 
enthusiasm, teaching Lady Marney's spaniel to beg, 
when the door opened and Lord Marney entered, but, 
as if to make security doubly sure, not alone. He 
was accompanied by a neighbour and brother magis- 
trate. Sir Vavasour Firebrace, a baronet of the earliest 
batch, and a gentleman of great family and great es- 
tate. 

'Well, Charles!' 

'How are you, George.^' 

And the brothers shook hands. 

'Tis the English way; and if they had been in- 
clined to fall into each other's arms, they would not 
probably have done more. 

In a few minutes it was announced that dinner 
v/as served, and so, secured from a scene, having a fair 



SYBIL 



63 



appetite, and surrounded by dishes that could agreeably 
satisfy it, a kind of vague fraternal sentiment began 
to stir the breast of Lord Marney: he really was glad 
to see his brother again; remembered the days when 
they rode their ponies and played cricket; his voice 
softened, his eyes sparkled, and he at length ex- 
claimed, 'Do you know, old fellow, it makes me 
quite happy to see you here again? Suppose we 
take a glass of wine.' 

The softer heart and more susceptible spirit of 
Egremont were well calculated to respond to this 
ebullition of feeling, however slight; and truly it was 
for many reasons not without considerable emotion, 
that he found himself once more at Marney. He sat 
by the side of his gentle sister-in-law, who seemed 
pleased by the unwonted cordiality of her husband, 
and anxious by many kind offices to second every 
indication of good feeling on his part. Captain Grouse 
was assiduous; the vicar was of the differential breed, 
agreed with Lady Marney on the importance of infant 
schools, but recalled his opinion when Lord Marney 
expressed his imperious hope that no infant schools 
would ever be found in his neighbourhood. Sir Vava- 
sour was more than middle-aged, comely, very gen- 
tlemanlike, but with an air occasionally of absence 
which hardly agreed with his frank and somewhat 
hearty idiosyncrasy, his clear brow, florid complexion, 
and blue eye. But Lord Marney talked a good deal, 
though chiefly dogmatical or argumentative. It was 
rather difficult for him to find a sufficient stock of op- 
position, but he lay in wait and seized every opening 
with wonderful alacrity. Even Gaptain Grouse could 
not escape him: if driven to extremity. Lord Marney 
would even question his principles on fly-making. 



64 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Captain Grouse gave up, but not too soon; he was 
well aware that his noble friend's passion for contro- 
versy was equal to his love of conquest. As for Lady 
Marney, it was evident that, with no inconsiderable 
talents, and with an intelligence richly cultivated, the 
controversial genius of her husband had completely 
cowed her conversational charms. She never advanced 
a proposition that he did not immediately bristle up, 
and she could only evade the encounter by a grace- 
ful submission. As for the vicar, a frequent guest, 
he would fain have taken refuge in silence, but the 
earl, especially when alone, would what he called 
*draw him out,' and the game once unearthed, with 
so skilled a pack there was but little fear of a bad run. 
When all were reduced to silence. Lord Marney, re- 
linquishing controversy, assumed the positive. He 
eulogised the new Poor-Law, which he declared would 
be the salvation of the country, provided it was ' car- 
ried out' in the spirit in which it was developed in 
the Marney Union; but then he would add that there 
was no district except their union in which it was prop- 
erly observed. He was tremendously fierce against 
allotments, and analysed the system with merciless 
sarcasm. Indeed, he had no inconsiderable acquaint- 
ance with the doctrines of the economists, and was 
rather inclined to carry them into practice in every 
instance, except that of the landed proprietary, which 
he clearly proved ' stood upon different grounds ' from 
those of any other 'interest.' There was nothing he 
hated so much as a poacher, except a lease; though 
perhaps, in the catalogue of his aversions, we ought 
to give the preference to his anti-ecclesiastical preju- 
dice; this amounted even to acrimony. Though there 
was no man breathing who was possessed with such 



SYBIL 



65 



a strong repugnance to subscriptions of any kind, it 
delighted Lord Marney to see his name among the 
contributors to all sectarian institutions. The vicar of 
Marney, who had been presented by himself, was his 
model of a priest: he left everybody alone. Under the 
influence of Lady Marney, the worthy vicar had once 
warmed up into some ebullition of very Low Church zeal; 
there was some talk of an evening lecture, the schools 
were to be remodelled, certain tracts were actually 
distributed. But Lord Marney soon stopped all this. 
*No priestcraft at Marney,' said this gentle proprietor 
of abbey lands. 

*I wanted very much to come and canvass for 
you,' said Lady Marney to Egremont, 'but George did 
not like it.' 

*The less the family interfered the better,' said 
Lord Marney; *and for my part, I was very much 
alarmed when I heard my mother had gone down.' 

'Oh! my mother did wonders,' said Egremont; 'we 
should have been beaten without her. Indeed, to tell 
the truth, I quite gave up the thing the moment they 
started their man. Before that we were on velvet; 
but the instant he appeared everything was changed, 
and I found some of my warmest supporters members 
of his committee.' 

'You had a formidable opponent, Lord Marney 
told me,' said Sir Vavasour. 'Who was he?' 

'Oh! a dreadful man! A Scotchman, richer than 
Croesus, one McDruggy, fresh from Canton, with a 
million of opium in each pocket, denouncing corrup- 
tion and bellowing free trade.' 

'But they do not care much for free trade in the 
old borough?' said Lord Marney. 

'No, it was a mistake,' said Egremont; 'and the 

14 B, D.— 5 



66 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



cry was changed the moment my opponent was on 
the ground. Then all the town was placarded with 
''Vote for McDruggy and our young Queen," as if 
he had coalesced with her Majesty.* 

'My mother must have been in despair,' said Lord 
Marney. 

'We issued our placard instantly of " Vote for our 
young Queen and Egremont," which was at least 
more modest, and turned out more popular.' 

'That 1 am sure was my mother,* said Lord Mar- 
ney. 

'No,' said Egremont; 'it was the effusion of a far 
more experienced mind. My mother was in hourly 
communication with head-quarters, and Mr. Taper 
sent down the cry by express.' 

'Peel, in or out, will support the Poor-Law,' said 
Lord Marney, rather audaciously, as he reseated 
himself after the ladies had retired. 'He must;' and 
he looked at his brother, whose return had in a 
great degree been secured by crying that Poor-Law 
down. 

'It is impossible,' said Charles, fresh from the 
hustings, and speaking from the card of Taper; for 
the condition of the people was a subject of which 
he knew nothing. 

'He will carry it out,' said Lord Marney, 'you'll 
see, or the land will not support him.' 

'I wish,' said Sir Vavasour, 'we could manage 
some modification about out-door relief.' 

'Modification!' said Lord Marney; 'why, there has 
been nothing but modification. What we want is 
stringency.' 

'The people will never bear it,' said Egremont; 
'there must be some change.' 



V 



SYBIL 67 

'You cannot go back to' the abuses of the old 
system,' said Captain Grouse, making, as he thought, 
a safe observation. 

'Better go back to the old system than modify 
the new,' said Lord Marney. 

'I wish the people would take to it a little more,' 
said Sir Vavasour; 'they certainly do not like it in 
our parish.' 

'The people are very contented here, eh, Slimsey.^' 
said Lord Marney. 

'Very,' said the vicar. 

Hereupon a conversation took place, principally sus- 
tained by the earl and the baronet, which developed 
all the resources of the great parochial mind. Diet- 
aries, bastardy, gaol regulations, game laws, were 
amply discussed; and Lord Marney wound up with a 
declaration of the means by which the country might 
be saved, and which seemed principally to consist of 
high prices and Low Church. 

'If the Sovereign could only know her best friends,' 
said Sir Vavasour, with a sigh. 

Lord Marney seemed to get uneasy. 

'And avoid the fatal mistakes of her predecessor,' 
continued the baronet. 

'Charles, another glass of claret,' said the earl. 

'She might yet rally round the throne a body of 
men — ' 

'Then we will go to the ladies,' said the earl, 
abruptly disturbing his guest. 



CHAPTER VIII. 




*The Question of the Day.' 



HERE was music as they re-entered 
the drawing-room. Sir Vavasour 
attached himself to Egremont. 



^ ' It is a great pleasure for me 
to see you again, Mr. Egremont/ 
said the worthy baronet. 'Your 



father was my earliest and kindest friend. I remem- 
ber you at Firebrace, a very little boy. Happy to see 
you again, sir, in so eminent a position; a legislator 
— one of our legislators. It gave me a sincere satis- 
faction to observe your return.' 

'You are very kind, Sir Vavasour.' 

'But it is a responsible position,' continued the 
baronet. 'Think you they'll stand? A majority, I 
suppose, they have; but, I conclude, in time. Sir 
Robert will have it in time. We must not be in a 
hurry; "the more haste" — you know the rest. The 
country is decidedly conservative. All that we want 
now is a strong government, that will put all things 
to rights. If the poor king had lived — ' 

'He would have sent these men to the right-about,' 
said Egremont, a young politician, proud of his secret 
intelligence. 



(68) 



SYBIL 



69 



*Ah! the poor king!' said Sir Vavasour, shaking 
his head. 

'He was entirely with us,' said Egremont. 
'Poor man!' said Sir Vavasour. 
'You think it was too late, then?' said his com- 
panion. 

'You are a young man entering political life,' said 
the baronet, taking Egremont kindly by the arm, and 
leading him to a sofa; 'everything depends on the 
first step. You have a great opportunity. Nothing 
can be done by a mere individual. The most power- 
ful body in this country wants a champion.' 

'But you can depend on Peel.^' said Egremont. 

'He is one of us; we ought to be able to depend 
on him. But I have spoken to him for an hour, and 
could get nothing out of him.' 

'He is cautious; but depend upon it, he will stand 
or fall by the land.' 

'I am not thinking of the land,' said Sir Vavasour; 
'of something much more important; with all the in- 
fluence of the land, and a great deal more besides; 
of an order of men who are ready to rally round the 
throne, and are, indeed, if justice were done to them, 
its natural and hereditary champions.' Egremont 
looked perplexity. 'I am speaking,' added Sir Vava- 
sour in a solemn voice, 'I am speaking of the bar- 
onets!' 

'The baronets! And what do they want?' 

'Their rights; their long- withheld rights. The poor 
king was with us. He has frequently expressed to 
me and other deputies his determination to do us 
justice; but he was not a strong-minded man,' said 
Sir Vavasour, with a sigh ; ' and in these revolutionary 
and levelling times he had a hard task, perhaps. And 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



the peers, who are our brethren, they were, I fear, 
against us. But, in spite of the ministers and in 
spite of the peers, had the poor king lived we should 
at least have had the badge,' added Sir Vavasour, 
mournfully. 

* The badge! ' 

' It would have satisfied Sir Grosvenor le Draughte,' 
said Sir Vavasour; 'and he had a strong party with 

him; he was for compromise, but d him, his 

father was only an accoucheur.' 

'And you wanted more?' inquired Egremont, with 
a demure look. 

'All, or nothing,' said Sir Vavasour; 'principle is 
ever my motto, no expediency. 1 made a speech to 
the order at the Clarendon; there were four hundred 
of us; the feeling v/as very strong.' 

'A powerful party,' said Egremont. 

'And a military order, sir, if properly understood. 
What could stand against us ? The Reform Bill could 
never have passed if the baronets had been organ- 
ised.' 

'1 have no doubt you could bring us in now,' said 
Egremont. 

'That is exactly what 1 told Sir Robert. 1 want 
him to be brought in by his own order. It would be 
a grand thing.' 

'There is nothing like esprit de corps/ said Egre- 
mont. 

'And such a body!' exclaimed Sir Vavasour, with 
animation. ' Picture us for a moment, to yourself, 
going down in procession to Westminster, for exam- 
ple, to hold a chapter. Five or six hundred baronets 
in dark green costume, — the appropriate dress of 
equites aurati; each not only with his badge, but with 



SYBIL 



71 



his collar of SS. ; belted and scarfed ; his star ghtter- 
ing; his pennon flying; his hat white, with a plume 
of white feathers; of course the sword and the gilt 
spurs. In our hand, the thumb-ring and signet not 
forgotten, we hold our coronet of two balls!' 

Egremont stared with irrepressible astonishment at 
the excited being, who unconsciously pressed his 
companion's arm as he drew this rapid sketch of the 
glories so unconstitutionally withheld from him. 

'A magnificent spectacle!' said Egremont. 

' Evidently the body destined to save this country,' 
eagerly continued Sir Vavasour. 'Blending all sym- 
pathies; the crown of which they are the peculiar 
champions; the nobles of whom they are the popular 
branch; the people who recognise in them their nat- 
ural leaders. But the picture is not complete. We 
should be accompanied by an equal number of gallant 
knights, our eldest sons, who, the moment they come 
of age, have the right to claim knighthood of their 
Sovereign, while their mothers and wives, no longer 
degraded to the nomenclature of a sheriff's lady, but 
resuming their legal or analogical dignities, and styled 
the "honourable baronetess," with her coronet and 
robe, or the ''honourable knightess," with her golden 
collar of SS., and chaplet or cap of dignity, may 
either accompany the procession, or, ranged in gal- 
leries in a becoming situation, rain influence from 
above.' 

M am all for their going in the procession,' said 
Egremont. 

'The point is not so clear,' said Sir Vavasour, 
solemnly; 'and indeed, although we have been firm 
in defining our rightful claims in our petitions, as for 
*' honorary epithets, secondary titles, personal decora- 



72 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



tions, and augmented heraldic bearings," I am not 
clear, if the government evinced a disposition for a 
liberal settlement of the question, 1 would not urge a 
too stringent adherence to every point. For instance, 
1 am prepared myself, great as would be the sacrifice, 
even to renounce the claim of secondary titles for our 
eldest sons, if, for instance, they would secure us our 
coronet.' 

*Fie, fie. Sir Vavasour,' said Egremont, seriously; 
'remember principle: no expediency, no compromise.' 

'You are right,' said the baronet, colouring a little; 
'and do you know, Mr. Egremont, you are the only 
individual 1 have yet met out of the order, who has 
taken a sensible view of this great question, which, 
after all, is the question of the day.' 



CHAPTER IX. 




A Significant Event. 

HE situation of the rural town of 
Marney was one of the most de- 
Hghtful easily to be imagined. In 
a spreading dale, contiguous to 
the margin of a clear and lively 
stream, surrounded by meadows and 
gardens, and backed by lofty hills, undulating and 
richly wooded, the traveller on the opposite heights 
of the dale would often stop to admire the merry 
prospect that recalled to him the traditional epithet of 
his country. 

Beautiful illusion! For behind that laughing land- 
scape, penury and disease fed upon the vitals of a 
miserable population. 

The contrast between the interior of the town and 
its external aspect was as striking as it was full of 
pain. With the exception of the dull high street, 
which had the usual characteristics of a small agri- 
cultural market town, some sombre mansions, a dingy 
inn, and a petty bourse, Marney mainly consisted of 
a variety of narrow and crowded lanes formed by 
cottages built of rubble, or unhewn stones without 
cement, and, from age or badness of the material, 

(73) 



74 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



looking as if they could scarcely hold together. The 
gaping chinks admitted every blast; the leaning 
chimneys had lost half their original height; the rotten 
rafters were evidently misplaced; while in many in- 
stances the thatch, yawning in some parts to admit 
the wind and wet, and in all utterly unfit for 
its original purpose of giving protection from the 
weather, looked more like the top of a dunghill than 
a cottage. Before the doors of these dwellings, and 
often surrounding them, ran open drains full of animal 
and vegetable refuse, decomposing into disease, or 
sometimes in their imperfect course filling foul pits or 
spreading into stagnant pools, while a concentrated 
solution of every species of dissolving filth was al- 
lowed to soak through, and thoroughly impregnate, 
the walls and ground adjoining. 

These wretched tenements seldom consisted of 
more than two rooms, in one of which the whole 
family, however numerous, were obliged to sleep, 
without distinction of age, or sex, or suffering. With 
the water streaming down the walls, the light dis- 
tinguished through the roof, with no hearth even 
in winter, the virtuous mother in the sacred pangs of 
childbirth gives forth another victim to our thought- 
less civilisation; surrounded by three generations whose 
inevitable presence is more painful than her sufferings 
in that hour of travail; while the father of her coming 
child, in another corner of the sordid chamber, lies 
stricken by that typhus which his contaminating dwell- 
ing has breathed into his veins, and for whose next 
prey is perhaps destined his new-born child. These 
swarming walls had neither windows nor doors suf- 
ficient to keep out the weather, or admit the sun, or 
supply the means of ventilation; the humid and putrid 



SYBIL 



75 



roof of thatch exhaling malaria like all other decaying 
vegetable matter. The dwelling-rooms were neither 
boarded nor paved; and whether it were that some 
were situate in low and damp places, occasionally 
flooded by the river, and usually much below the 
level of the road; or that the springs, as was often 
the case, would burst through the mud floor, the 
ground was at no time better than so much clay, while 
sometimes you might see little channels cut from the 
centre under the doorways to carry off the water, the 
door itself removed from its hinges; a resting-place 
for infancy in its deluged home. These hovels were 
in many instances not provided with the commonest 
conveniences of the rudest police; contiguous to every 
door might be observed the dung-heap on which 
every kind of filth was accumulated, for the purpose 
of being disposed of for manure, so that, when the 
poor man opened his narrow habitation in the hope 
of refreshing it with the breeze of summer, he was 
met with a mixture of gases from reeking dunghills. 

This town of Marney was a metropolis of agricul- 
tural labour, for the proprietors of the neighbourhood 
having for the last half-century acted on the system 
of destroying the cottages on their estates, in order 
to become exempted from the maintenance of the 
population, the expelled people had flocked to Marney, 
where, during the war, a manufactory had afforded 
them some relief, though its wheels had long ceased 
to disturb the waters of the Mar. 

Deprived of this resource, they had again gradually 
spread themselves over that land which had, as it 
were, rejected them; and obtained from its churlish 
breast a niggardly subsistence. Their re-entrance into 
the surrounding parishes was viewed with great suspi- 



76 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



cion; their renewed settlement opposed by every 
ingenious contrivance. Those who availed themselves 
of their labour were careful that they should not be- 
come dwellers on the soil; and though, from the 
excessive competition, there were few districts in the 
kingdom where the rate of wages was more de- 
pressed, those who were fortunate enough to obtain 
the scant remuneration had, in addition to their toil, 
to endure, each morn and even, a weary journey be- 
fore they could reach the scene of their labour, or 
return to the squalid hovel which profaned the name 
of home. To that home, over which malaria hovered, 
and round whose shivering hearth were clustered 
other guests besides the exhausted family of toil, 
Fever, in every form, pale Consumption, exhausting 
Synochus, and trembling Ague, returned, after cul- 
tivating the broad fields of merry England, the bold 
British peasant, returned to encounter the worst of 
diseases, with a frame the least qualified to oppose 
them; a frame that, subdued by toil, was never sus- 
tained by animal food; drenched by the tempest, 
could not change its dripping rags; and was indebted 
for its scanty fuel to the windfalls of the woods. 

The eyes of this unhappy race might have been 
raised to the solitary spire that sprang up in the 
midst of them, the bearer of present consolation, the 
harbinger of future equality; but Holy Church at Mar- 
ney had forgotten her sacred mission. We have in- 
troduced the reader to the vicar, an orderly man, who 
deemed he did his duty if he preached each week 
two sermons, and enforced humility on his congrega- 
tion, and gratitude for the blessings of this life. The 
high street and some neighbouring gentry were the 
staple of his hearers. Lord and Lady Marney, at- 



SYBIL 



77 



tended by Captain Grouse, came every Sunday morn- 
ing, with commendable regularity, and were ushered 
into the invisible interior of a vast pew, that occupied 
half of the gallery, was lined with crimson damask, 
and furnished with easy chairs, and, for those who 
chose them, well-padded stools of prayer. The peo- 
ple of Marney took refuge in conventicles, which 
abounded; little plain buildings of pale brick, with 
the names painted on them of Sion, Bethel, Bethesda; 
names of a distant land, and the language of a per- 
secuted and ancient race; yet, such is the mysterious 
power of their divine quality, breathing consolation in 
the nineteenth century to the harassed forms and the 
harrowed souls of a Saxon peasantry. 

But however devoted to his flock might have 
been the Vicar of Marney, his exertions for their 
well-being, under any circumstances, must have been 
mainly limited to spiritual consolation. Married, and 
a father, he received for his labours the small tithes 
of the parish, which secured to him an income by no 
means equal to that of a superior banker's clerk, or 
the cook of a great loanmonger. The great tithes of 
Marney, which might be counted by thousands, 
swelled the vast rental which was drawn from this 
district by the fortunate earls that bore its name. 

The morning after the arrival of Egremont at the 
Abbey, an unusual stir might have been observed in 
the high street of the town. Round the portico of 
the Green Dragon hotel and commercial inn, a knot 
of principal personages, the chief lawyer, the brewer, 
the vicar himself, and several of those easy quidnuncs 
who abound in country towns, and who rank under 
the designation of retired gentlemen, were in close 
and earnest converse. In a short time, a servant on 



78 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



horseback, in the Abbey livery, galloped up to the 
portico, and delivered a letter to the vicar. The ex- 
citement apparently had now greatly increased. On 
the opposite side of the way to the important group, 
a knot, in larger numbers, but deficient in quality, 
had formed themselves, and remained transfixed with 
gaping mouths and a curious, not to say alarmed air. 
The head constable walked up to the door of the 
Green Dragon, and, though he did not presume to 
join the principal group, was evidently in attendance, 
if required. The clock struck eleven; a cart had 
stopped to watch events, and a gentleman's coach- 
man riding home with a led horse. 

'Here they are!' said the brewer. 

'Lord Marney himself,' said the lawyer. 

'And Sir Vavasour Firebrace, I declare! I wonder 
how he came here,' said a retired gentleman, who 
had been a tallow-chandler on Holborn Hill. 

The vicar took off his hat, and all uncovered. 
Lord Marney and his brother magistrate rode briskly 
up to the inn, and rapidly dismounted. 

'Well, Snigford,' said his lordship, in a peremptory 
tone, 'this is a pretty business; I'll have this stopped 
directly.' 

Fortunate man, if he succeeded in doing so! The 
torch of the incendiary had for the first time been 
introduced into the parish of Marney; and last night 
the primest stacks of the Abbey farm had blazed, a 
beacon to the agitated neighbourhood. 



CHAPTER X. 




A Stroll through the Abbey. 



T IS not so much the fire, sir,' said 
) Mr. Bingley, of the Abbey farm, 
to Egremont, 'but the temper of 
the people that alarms me. Do 
fy you know, sir, there were two or 
three score of them here, and, ex- 



cept my own farm-servants, not one of them would 
lend a helping hand to put out the flames, though, 
with water so near, they might have been of great 
service.' 

'You told my brother. Lord Marney, this?' 

'Oh! it's Mr. Charles I'm speaking to! My service 
to you, sir; I'm glad to see you in these parts again. 
It's a long time that we have had that pleasure, sir. 
Travelling in foreign parts, as I have heard say?' 

'Something of that; but very glad to find myself 
at home once more, Mr. Bingley, though very sorry 
to have such a welcome as a blazing rick at the Ab- 
bey farm.' 

'Well, do you know, Mr. Charles, between our- 
selves,' and Mr. Bingley lowered his tone and looked 
around him, 'things is very bad here; I can't make 
out, for my part, what has become of the country. 



(79) 



8o BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Tayn't the same land to live in as it was when you 
used to come to our moor coursing, with the old 
lord; you remember that, I be sure, Mr. Charles?' 

"Tis not easy to forget good sport, Mr. Bingley. 
With your permission, I will put my horse up here for 
half an hour. I have a fancy to stroll to the ruins.' 

'You wunna find them much changed,' said the 
farmer, smiling. ' They have seen a deal of different 
things in their time! But you will taste our ale, Mr. 
Charles ? ' 

' When 1 return.' 

But the hospitable Bingley would take no denial, 
and as his companion waived on the present occasion 
entering his house, for the sun had been some time 
declining, the farmer, calling one of his labourers to 
take Egremont's horse, hastened into the house to fill 
the brimming cup. 

*And what do you think of this fire?' said Egre- 
mont to the hind. 

'I think 'tis hard times for the poor, sir.' 

' But rick-burning will not make the times easier, 
my good man.' 

The man made no reply, but with a dogged look 
led away the horse to the stable. 

About half a mile from Marney the dale narrowed, 
and the river took a winding course. It ran through 
meads, soft and vivid with luxuriant vegetation, 
bounded on either side by rich hanging woods, save 
where occasionally a quarry broke the verdant bosom 
of the heights with its rugged and tawny form. Fair 
stone and plenteous timber, and the current of fresh 
waters, combined, with the silent and secluded scene 
screened from every harsh and angry wind, to form 
the sacred spot that in old days Holy Church loved 



SYBIL 



8i 



to hallow with its beauteous and enduring structures. 
Even the stranger, therefore, when he had left the 
town about two miles behind him, and had heard the 
farm and mill which he had since past called the Ab- 
bey farm and the Abbey mill, might have been pre- 
pared for the grateful vision of some monastic remains. 
As for Egremont, he had been almost born amid the 
ruins of Marney Abbey; its solemn relics were asso- 
ciated with his first and freshest fancies; every foot- 
step was as familiar to him as it could have been to 
one of the old monks; yet never without emotion 
could he behold these unrivalled remains of one of 
the greatest of the great religious houses of the North. 

Over a space of not less than ten acres might still 
be observed the fragments of the great Abbey: these 
were, towards their limit, in general moss-grown and 
mouldering memorials that told where once rose the 
offices, and spread the terraced gardens, of the old 
proprietors ; here might still be traced the dwelling of 
the lord abbot; and there, still more distinctly, be- 
cause built on a greater scale and of materials still 
more intended for perpetuity, the capacious hospital, 
a name that did not then denote the dwelling of 
disease, but a place where all the rights of hospitality 
were practised; where the traveller, from the proud 
baron to the lonely pilgrim, asked the shelter and the 
succour that never were denied, and at whose gate, 
called the Portal of the Poor, the peasants on the Ab- 
bey lands, if in want, might appeal each morn and 
night for raiment and for food. 

But it was in the centre of this tract of ruins, oc- 
cupying a space of not less than two acres, that, 
with a strength which had defied time, and with a 
beauty which had at last turned away the wrath of 

14 B. D.— 6 



82 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



I 



man, still rose, if not in perfect, yet admirable, form 
and state, one of the noblest achievements of Christian 
art, the Abbey church. The summer vault was now 
its only roof, and all that remained of its gorgeous 
windows was the vastness of their arched symmetry, 
and some wreathed relics of their fantastic framework, 
but the rest was uninjured. 

From the west window, looking over the transept 
chapel of the Virgin, still adorned with pillars of 
marble and alabaster, the eye wandered down the 
nave to the great orient light, a length of nearly three 
hundred feet, through a gorgeous avenue of unshaken 
walls and columns that clustered to the skies. On 
each side of the Lady's chapel rose a tower. One, 
which was of great antiquity, being of that style 
which is commonly called Norman, short, and thick, 
and square, did not mount much above the height of 
the western front; but the other tower was of a 
character very different. It was tall and light, and of 
a Gothic style most pure and graceful; the stone of 
which it was built, of a bright and even sparkling 
colour, and looking as if it were hewn but yesterday. 
At first, its turreted crest seemed injured; but the 
truth is, it was unfinished; the workmen were busied 
on this very tower the day that old Baldwin Grey- 
mount came as the king's commissioner to enquire 
into the conduct of this religious house. The abbots 
loved to memorise their reigns by some public work, 
which should add to the beauty of their buildings or 
the convenience of their subjects; and the last of the 
ecclesiastical lords of Marney, a man of fine taste, and 
a skilful architect, was raising his new belfry for his 
brethren, when the stern decree arrived that the bells 
should no more sound. And the hymn was no more 



SYBIL 



83 



to be chaunted in the Lady's chapel; and the candles 
were no more to be lit on the high altar; and the 
gate of the poor was to be closed for ever; and the 
wanderer was no more to find a home. 

The body of the church was in many parts over- 
grown with brambles, and in all covered with a rank 
vegetation. It had been a sultry day, and the blaze 
of the meridian heat still inflamed the air; the kine, 
for shelter rather than for sustenance, had wandered 
through some broken arches, and were lying in the 
shadow of the nave. This desecration of a spot once 
sacred, still beautiful and solemn, jarred on the feel- 
ings of Egremont. He sighed, and turning away, 
followed a path that after a few paces led him into 
the cloister garden. This was a considerable quad- 
rangle, once surrounding the garden of the monks; 
but all that remained of that fair pleasaunce was a 
solitary yew in its centre, which seemed the oldest 
tree that could well live, and was, according to tra- 
dition, more ancient than the most venerable walls of 
the Abbey. Round this quadrangle were the refectory, 
the library, and the kitchen, and above them the cells 
and dormitory of the brethren. An imperfect stair- 
case, not without danger, led to these unroofed 
chambers; but Egremont, familiar with the way, did 
not hesitate to pursue it, so that he soon found him- 
self on an elevation overlooking the garden, while 
further on extended the vast cloisters of the monks, 
and adjoining was a cemetery, that had once been 
enclosed, and communicated with the cloister garden. 

It was one of those summer days that are so still, 
that they seem as it were a holiday of Nature. The 
weary winds were sleeping in some grateful cavern, 
and the sunbeams basking on some fervent knoll; the 



84 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



river floated with a drowsy unconscious course; there 
was no wave in the grass, no stir in the branches. 

A silence so profound amid these solemn ruins 
offered the perfection of solitude; and there was that 
stirring in the mind of Egremont which rendered him 
far from indisposed for this lonehness. 

The slight words that he had exchanged with the 
farmer and the hind had left him musing. Why was 
England not the same land as in the days of his 
light-hearted youth ? Why were these hard times for 
the poor? He stood among the ruins that, as the 
farmer had well observed, had seen many changes: 
changes of creeds, of dynasties, of laws, of manners. 
New orders of men had arisen in the country, new 
sources of wealth had opened, new dispositions of 
power to which that wealth had necessarily led. His 
own house, his own order, had established them- 
selves on the ruins of that great body, the emblems 
of whose ancient magnificence and strength sur- 
rounded him. And now his order was in turn 
menaced. And the People, the millions of Toil on 
whose unconscious energies during these changeful 
centuries all rested, what changes had these centuries 
brought to them ? Had their advance in the national 
scale borne a due relation to that progress of their 
rulers, which had accumulated in the treasuries of a 
limited class the riches of the world, and made their 
possessors boast that they were the first of nations; 
the most powerful and the most free, the most en- 
lightened, the most moral, and the most religious 
Were there any rick-burners in the times of the lord 
abbots ? And if not, why not ? And why should the 
stacks of the Earls of Marney be destroyed, and those 
of the abbots of Marney spared ? 



FROM AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY FRANCIS VAUX WILSON 



Looking around, he observed in the cemetery two men. 
One was standing beside a tomb, 

(See page 85.) 



SYBIL 



85 



Brooding over these suggestions, some voices dis- 
turbed him, and, looking round, he observed in the 
cemetery two men: one was standing beside a tomb, 
which his companion was apparently examining. 

The first was of lofty stature, and, though dressed 
with simplicity, had nothing sordid in his appearance. 
His garments gave no clue to his position in life: 
they might have been worn by a squire or by his 
gamekeeper; a dark velveteen dress and leathern 
gaiters. As Egremont caught his form, he threw his 
broad-brimmed country hat upon the ground, and 
showed a frank and manly countenance. His com- 
plexion might in youth have been ruddy, but time 
and time's attendants, thought and passion, had paled 
it; his chestnut hair, faded, but not grey, still clus- 
tered over a noble brow; his features were regular 
and handsome, a well-formed nose, the square mouth 
and its white teeth, and the clear grey eye which 
befitted such an idiosyncrasy. His time of vigorous 
manhood, for he was nearer forty than fifty years of 
age, perhaps better suited his athletic form than the 
more supple and graceful season of youth. 

Stretching his powerful arms in the air, and de- 
livering himself of an exclamation which denoted his 
weariness, and which had broken the silence, he ex- 
pressed to his companion his determination to rest 
himself under the shade of the yew in the contiguous 
garden, and, inviting his friend to follow him, he 
took up his hat and moved away. 

There was something in the appearance of the 
stranger that interested Egremont; and, waiting till he 
had established himself in his pleasant resting-place, 
Egremont descended into the cloister garden and de- 
termined to address him. 



CHAPTER XI. 




A Seraphic Appearance. 

I 

OU lean against an ancient trunk,' 
said Egremont, carelessly advanc- 
ing to the stranger, who looked 
up at him without any expression 
of surprise, and then replied, * They 
say 'tis the trunk beneath whose 
branches the monks encamped when they came to 
this valley to raise their building. It was their house, 
till with the wood and stone around them, their 
labour and their fine art, they piled up their abbey. 
And then they were driven out of it, and it came to 
this. Poor men! poor men!' 

'They would hardly have forfeited their resting- 
place had they deserved to retain it,' said Egremont. 

'They were rich. I thought it was poverty that 
was a crime,' replied the stranger, in a tone of sim- 
phcity. 

'But they had committed other crimes.' 

'It may be so; we are very frail. But their his- 
tory has been written by their enemies; they were con- 
demned without a hearing; the people rose oftentimes 
in their behalf; and their property was divided among 
those on whose reports it was forfeited.' 

(86) 



SYBIL 



87 



'At any rate, it was a forfeiture which gave life to 
the community,' said Egremont; 'the lands are held 
by active men and not by drones.' 

*A drone is one who does not labour/ said the 
stranger; 'whether he wear a cowl or a coronet, 'tis 
the same to me. Somebody, I suppose, must own the 
land; though I have heard say that this individual 
tenure is not a necessity; but, however this may be, 
I am not one who would object to the lord, provided 
he were a gentle one. All agree that the monastics 
were easy landlords; their rents were low; they 
granted leases in those days. Their tenants, too, 
might renew their term before their tenure ran out: so 
they were men of spirit and property. There were 
yeomen then, sir: the country was not divided into 
two classes, masters and slaves; there was some 
resting-place between luxury and misery. Comfort 
was an English habit then, not merely an EngUsh 
word.' 

' And do you really think they were easier land- 
lords than our present ones.?^' said Egremont, inquir- 
ingly. 

'Human nature would tell us that, even if history 
did not confess it. The monastics could possess no 
private property; they could save no money; they 
could bequeath nothing. They lived, received, and 
expended in common. The monastery, too, was a 
proprietor that never died and never wasted. The 
farmer had a deathless landlord then; not a harsh 
guardian, or a grinding mortgagee, or a dilatory master 
in chancery: all was certain; the manor had not to 
dread a change of lords, or the oaks to tremble at the 
axe of the squandering heir. How proud we are still 
in England of an old family, though, God knows, 'tis 



88 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



rare to see one now. Yet the people like to say, *'We 
held under him, and his father and his grandfather 
before him " : they know that such a tenure is a benefit. 
The abbot was ever the same. The monks were, in 
short, in every district a point of refuge for all who 
needed succour, counsel, and protection; a body of 
individuals having no cares of their own, with wis- 
dom to guide the inexperienced, with wealth to re- 
lieve the suffering, and often with power to protect 
the oppressed.' 

'You plead their cause with feeling,' said Egre- 
mont, not unmoved. 

*It is my own; they were the sons of the people, 
like myself.' 

'I had thought rather these monasteries were the 
resort of the younger branches of the aristocracy,' said 
Egremont. 

'Instead of the pension list,' replied his companion, 
smiling, but not with bitterness. 'Well, if we must 
have an aristocracy, I would rather that its younger 
branches should be monks and nuns than colonels 
without regiments, or housekeepers of royal palaces 
that exist only in name. Besides, see what advantage 
to a minister if the unendowed aristocracy were thus 
provided for now. He need not, like a minister in 
these days, entrust the conduct of public affairs to in- 
dividuals notoriously incompetent, appoint to the com- 
mand of expeditions generals who never saw a field, 
make governors of colonies out of men who never 
could govern themselves, or find an ambassador in a 
broken dandy or a blasted favourite. It is true that 
many of the monks and nuns were persons of noble 
birth. Why should they not have been.? The aris- 
tocracy had their share; no more. They, like all other 



SYBIL 



89 



classes, were benefited by the monasteries: but the 
list of the mitred abbots, when they were suppressed, 
shows that the great majority of the heads of houses 
were of the people.' 

' Well, whatever difference of opinion may exist 
on these points,' said Egremont, 'there is one on 
which there can be no controversy: the monks were 
great architects.' 

'Ah! there it is,' said the stranger, in a tone of 
plaintiveness; 'if the world only knew what they 
had lost! I am sure that not the faintest idea is 
generally prevalent of the appearance of England be- 
fore and since the dissolution. Why, sir, in England 
and Wales alone, there were of these institutions of 
different sizes, I mean monasteries, and chantries and 
chapels, and great hospitals, considerably upwards of 
three thousand; all of them fair buildings, many of 
them of exquisite beauty. There were on an average 
in every shire at least twenty structures such as this 
was; in this great county double that number: 
estabhshments that were as vast and as magnificent 
and as beautiful as your Belvoirs and your Chats- 
worths, your Wentworths and your Stowes. Try to 
imagine the effect of thirty or forty Chatsworths in 
this county, the proprietors of which were never 
absent. You complain enough now of absentees. 
The monks were never non-resident. They expended 
their revenue among those whose labour had pro- 
duced it. These holy men, too, built and planted, as 
they did everything else, for posterity: their churches 
were cathedrals; their schools colleges; their halls and 
libraries the muniment rooms of kingdoms; their 
woods and waters, their farms and gardens, were laid 
out and disposed on a scale and in a spirit that are 



90 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



now extinct; they made the country beautiful, and 
the people proud of their country.' 

'Yet if the monks were such public benefactors, 
why did not the people rise in their favour ? ' 

'They did, but too late. They struggled for a 
century, but they struggled against property, and they 
were beat. As long as the monks existed, the people, 
when aggrieved, had property on their side. And 
now 'tis all over,' said the stranger; 'and travellers 
come and stare at these ruins, and think themselves 
very wise to moralise over time. They are the 
children of violence, not of time. It is war that 
created these ruins, civil war, of all our civil wars 
the most inhuman, for it was waged with the un- 
resisting. The monasteries were taken by storm, they 
were sacked, gutted, battered with warlike instru- 
ments, blown up with gunpowder; you may see the 
marks of the blast against the new tower here. Never 
was such a plunder. The whole face of the country 
for a century was that of a land recently invaded by 
a ruthless enemy; it was worse "than the Norman con- 
quest; nor has England ever lost this character of 
ravage. I don't know whether the union workhouses 
will remove it. They are building something for the 
people at last. After an experiment of three centuries, 
your gaols being full, and your treadmills losing 
something of their virtue, you have given us a substi- 
tute for the monasteries.' 

'You lament the old faith,' said Egremont, in a 
tone of respect. 

'I am not viewing the question as one of faith,' 
said the stranger. ' It is not as a matter of religion, 
but as a matter of right, that 1 am considering it: as 
a matter, I should say, of private right and public 



SYBIL 91 

happiness. You might have changed, if you thought 
fit, the religion of the abbots as you changed the 
religion of the bishops: but you had no right to de- 
prive men of their property, and property moreover 
which, under their administration, so mainly contrib- 
uted to the welfare of the community.' 

'As for community,' said a voice which pro- 
ceeded neither from Egremont nor the stranger, 
'with the monasteries expired the only type that 
we ever had in England of such an intercourse. 
There is no community in England; there is ag- 
gregation, but aggregation under circumstances which 
make it rather a dissociating than a uniting princi- 
ple.' 

It was a still voice that uttered these words, yet 
one of a peculiar character; one of those voices that 
instantly arrest attention: gentle and yet solemn, 
earnest yet unimpassioned. With a step as whisper- 
ing as his tone, the man who had been kneeling by 
the tomb had unobserved joined his associate and 
Egremont. He hardly reached the middle height; his 
form slender, but well-proportioned; his pale counte- 
nance, slightly marked with the small-pox, was re- 
deemed from absolute ugliness by a highly intellectual 
brow, and large dark eyes that indicated deep sensi- 
bility and great quickness of apprehension. Though 
young, he was already a little bald; he was dressed 
entirely in black; the fairness of his linen, the neat- 
ness of his beard, his gloves much worn, yet carefully 
mended, intimated that his faded garments were the 
result of necessity rather than of negligence. 

'You also lament the dissolution of these bodies,' 
said Egremont. 

'There is so much to lament in the world in 



92 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



which we live/ said the younger of the strangers, 
'that I can spare no pang for the past.' 

'Yet you approve of the principle of their society; 
you prefer it, you say, to our existing life.' 

'Yes; 1 prefer association to gregariousness.' 

'That is a distinction,' said Egremont, musingly. 

'It is a community of purpose that constitutes so- 
ciety,' continued the younger stranger; 'without that, 
men may be drawn into contiguity, but they still 
continue virtually isolated.' 

'And is that their condition in cities?' 

'It is their condition everywhere; but in cities that 
condition is aggravated. A density of population im- 
plies a severer struggle for existence, and a consequent 
repulsion of elements brought into too close contact. 
In great cities men are brought together by the de- 
sire of gain. They are not in a state of co-operation, 
but of isolation, as to the making of fortunes; and for 
all the rest they are careless of neighbours. Christianity 
teaches us to love our neighbour as ourself; modern 
society acknowledges no neighbour.' 

'Well, we live in strange times,' said Egremont, 
struck by the observation of his companion, and re- 
lieving a perplexed spirit by an ordinary exclamation, 
which often denotes that the mind is more stirred 
than it cares to acknowledge, or at the moment is 
able to express. 

'When the infant begins to walk, it also thinks 
that it lives in strange times,' said his companion. 

'Your inference .^^ ' asked Egremont. 

'That society, still in its infancy, is beginning to 
feel its way.' 

'This is a new reign,' said Egremont, 'perhaps it 
is a new era.' 



SYBIL 



93 



'I think so,' said the younger stranger. 

*I hope so/ said the elder one. 

'Well, society may be in its infancy,' said Egre- 
mont, slightly smiling; 'but, say what you Hke, our 
Queen reigns over the greatest nation that ever ex- 
isted.' 

' Which nation ? ' asked the younger stranger, ' for 
she reigns over two.' 

The stranger paused; Egremont was silent, but 
looked inquiringly. 

'Yes,' resumed the younger stranger after a mo- 
ment's interval. 'Two nations; between whom there 
is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as igno- 
rant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as 
if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabit- 
ants of different planets; who are formed by a differ- 
ent breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered 
by different manners, and are not governed by the 
same laws.' 

'You speak of — ' said Egremont, hesitatingly. 
'The Rich and the Poor.' 

At this moment a sudden flush of rosy light, suf- 
fusing the grey ruins, indicated that the sun had just 
fallen; and, through a vacant arch that overlooked 
them, alone in the resplendent sky, glittered the twi- 
light star. The hour, the scene, the solemn stillness 
and the softening beauty, repressed controversy, in- 
duced even silence. The last words of the stranger 
lingered in the ear of Egremont; his musing spirit 
was teeming with many thoughts, many emotions; 
when from the Lady's chapel there rose the evening 
hymn to the Virgin. A single voice; but tones of 
almost supernatural sweetness; tender and solemn, yet 
flexible and thrilling. 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Egremont started from his reverie. He would have 
spoken, but he perceived that the elder of the strangers 
had risen from his resting-place, and, with downcast 
eyes and crossed arms, was on his knees. The other 
remained standing in his former posture. 

The divine melody ceased; the elder stranger rose; 
the words were on the lips of Egremont that would 
have asked some explanation of this sweet and holy 
mystery, when, in the vacant and star-lit arch on 
which his glance was fixed, he beheld a female form. 
She was apparently in the habit of a Religious, yet 
scarcely could be a nun, for her veil, if indeed it 
were a veil, had fallen on her shoulders, and revealed 
her thick tresses of long fair hair. The blush of deep 
emotion lingered on a countenance which, though 
extremely young, was impressed with a character of 
almost divine majesty; while her dark eyes and long 
dark lashes, contrasting with the brightness of her 
complexion and the luxuriance of her radiant locks, 
combined to produce a beauty as rare as it is choice; 
and so strange, that Egremont might for a moment 
have been pardoned for believing her a seraph, who 
had lighted on this sphere, or the fair phantom of 
some saint haunting the sacred ruins of her desecrated 
fane. 



CHAPTER XII. 




Domestic Tyranny. 

UNDERSTAND, then/ said Lord 
Marney to his brother, as on the 
evening of the same day they were 
seated together in the drawing- 
room, in close converse, * I under- 
stand, then, that you have in fact 
paid nothing, and that my mother will give you a 
thousand pounds. That won't go very far.' 

'It will hardly pay for the chairing,' said Egre- 
mont; *the restoration of the family influence was 
celebrated on so great a scale.' 

'The family influence must be supported,' said 
Lord Marney, 'and my mother will give you a thou- 
sand pounds; as I said, that will not do much for 
you, but I like her spirit. Contests are expensive 
things, yet I quite approve of what you have done, 
especially as you won. It is a great thing in these 
ten-pound days to win your first contest, and shows 
powers of calculation which I respect. Everything in 
this world is calculation; there is no such thing as 
luck, depend upon it; and if you go on calculating 
with equal exactness, you must succeed in life. Now, 
the question is, what is to be done with your election 
bills?' 

(95) 



96 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Exactly.' 

'You want to know what I will do for you, or 
rather what I can do for you; that is the point. My 
inclination of course is to do everything for you; but 
when I calculate my resources, I may find that they 
are not equal to my inclination.' 

'I am sure, George, you will do everything, and 
more than everything, you ought.' 

' I am extremely pleased about this thousand pounds 
of my mother, Charles.' 

'Most admirable of her! But she always is so 
generous ! ' 

' Her jointure has been most regularly paid,' con- 
tinued Lord Marney. ' Always be exact in your pay- 
ments, Charles. There is no end to the good it 
produces. Now, if I had not been so regular in pay- 
ing my mother her jointure, she would not in all 
probability have been able to give you this thousand 
pounds, and therefore, to a certain extent, you are 
indebted for this thousand pounds to me.' 

Egremont drew up a little, but said nothing. 

' I am obliged to pay my mother her jointure, 
whether ricks are burnt or not,' said Lord Marney. 
'It's very hard, don't you think so?' 

'But these ricks were Bingley's!' 

'But he was not insured, and he will want some 
reduction in his rent, and if I do not see fit to allow 
it him, which I probably shall not, for he ought to 
have calculated on these things, I have ricks of my 
own, and they may be burnt any night.' 

' But you, of course, are insured ? ' 

'No, I am not, I calculate 'tis better to run the risk.' 

'I wonder why ricks are burnt now, and were 
not in old days,' said Egremont. 



SYBIL 



97 



* Because there is a surplus population in the 
kingdom,' said Lord Marney, *and no rural police in 
the county.' 

'You were speaking of the election, George,' said 
Egremont, not without reluctance, yet anxious, as the 
ice had been broken, to bring the matter to a result. 
Lord Marney, before the election, had written, in 
reply to his mother consulting him on the step, a 
letter with which she was delighted, but which Egre- 
mont at the time could have wished to have been 
more expHcit. However, in the excitement attendant 
on a first contest, and influenced by the person whose 
judgment always swayed, and, in the present case, 
was peculiarly entitled to sway him, he stifled his 
scruples, and persuaded himself that he was a candi- 
date, not only with the sanction but at the instance 
of his brother. 'You were speaking of the election, 
George,' said Egremont. 

'About the election, Charles. Well, the long and 
short of it is this: that I wish to see you comforta- 
ble. To be harassed about money is one of the most 
disagreeable incidents of life. It ruffles the temper, 
lowers the spirits, disturbs the rest, and finally breaks 
up one's health. Always, if you possibly can, keep 
square. And if by any chance you do find yourself 
in a scrape, come to me. There is nothing under 
those circumstances hke the advice of a cool-blooded 
friend.' 

'As valuable as the assistance of a cold-hearted 
one,' thought Egremont, who did not fancy too much 
the tone of this conversation. 

' But there is one thing of which you must par- 
ticularly beware,' continued Lord Marney, 'there is 
one thing worse even than getting into difficulties — 

14 B. D.— 7 



98 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



patching them up. The patching-up system is fatal; 
it is sure to break down; you never get clear. Now, 
what I want to do for you, Charles, is to put you 
right altogether. I want to see you square and more 
than square, in a position which will for ever guar- 
antee you from any annoyance of this kind.' 

'He is a good fellow, after all,' thought Egre- 
mont. 

'That thousand pounds of my mother was very 
apropos,' said Lord Marney; M suppose it was a sop 
that will keep them all right till we have made our 
arrangements.' 

*0h! there is no pressure of that kind,' said Egre- 
mont; Mf I see my way, and write to them, of course 
they will be quite satisfied.* 

'Excellent,' said Lord Marney; 'and nothing could 
be more convenient to me, for, between ourselves, 
my balances are very low at this moment. The awful 
expenditure of keeping up this place! And then such 
terrible incumbrances as I came to!' 

'Incumbrances, George! Why, 1 thought you had 
not any. There was not a single mortgage.' 

'No mortgages; they are nothing; you find them, 
you get used to them, and you calculate accordingly. 
You quite forget the portions for younger children.' 

'Yes; but you had plenty of ready money for 
them.' 

'I had to pay them though,' said Lord Marney. 
' Had I not 1 might have bought Grimblethorpe with 
the money; such an opportunity will never occur 
again.' 

'But you talked of incumbrances,' said Egremont. 
'Ah! my dear fellow,' said Lord Marney, 'you don't 
know what it is to have to keep up an estate like 



SYBIL 



99 



this; and very lucky for you. It is not the easy life 
you dream of. There are buildings; I am ruined in 
buildings; our poor dear father thought he left me 
Marney without an incumbrance; why, there was not 
a barn on the whole estate that was weather-proof; 
not a farm-house that was not half in ruins. What I 
have spent in buildings! And draining! Though I 
make my own tiles, draining, my dear fellow, is a 
something of which you have not the least idea!' 

'Well,', said Egremont, anxious to bring his brother 
back to the point, ' you think, then, I had better write 
to them and say — ' 

'Ah! now for your business,' said Lord Marney. 
*Now, I will tell you what I can do for you. I was 
speaking to Arabella about it last night; she quite ap- 
proves my idea. You remember the De Mowbrays ? 
Well, we are going to stay at Mowbray Castle, and 
you are to go with us. It is the first time they have 
received company since their great loss. Ah! you 
were abroad at the time, and so you are behindhand. 
Lord Mowbray's only son, Fitz-Warene, you remem- 
ber him, a deuced clever fellow, he died about a year 
ago, in Greece, of a fever. Never was such a blow! 
His two sisters. Lady Joan and Lady Maud, are looked 
upon as the greatest heiresses in the kingdom: but I 
know Mowbray well; he will make an elder son of 
his elder daughter. She will have it all; she is one 
of Arabella's dearest friends, and you are to marry her.' 

Egremont stared at his brother, who patted him on 
the back with an expression of unusual kindness, add- 
ing, ' You have no idea what a load this has taken 
off my mind, my dear Charles; so great has my anx- 
iety always been about you, particularly of late. To 
see you lord of Mowbray Castle will realise my fond- 



loo BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



est hopes. That is a position fit for a man, and I 
know none more worthy of it than yourself, though 
I am your brother who say so. Now let us come 
and speak to Arabella about it.' 

So saying. Lord Marney, followed somewhat re- 
luctantly by his brother, advanced to the other end 
of the drawing-room, where his wife was employed 
with her embroidery-frame, and seated next to her 
young friend, Miss Poinsett, who was playing chess 
with Captain Grouse, a member of the chess club, and 
one of the most capital performers extant. 

'Well, Arabella,' said Lord Marney, 'it is all set- 
tled; Charles agrees with me about going to Mow- 
bray Castle, and I think the sooner we go the better. 
What do you think of the day after to-morrow ? 
That will suit me exactly, and therefore I think we 
had better fix on it. We will consider it settled.' 

Lady Marney looked embarrassed, and a little dis- 
tressed. Nothing could be more unexpected by her 
than this proposition; nothing more inconvenient than 
the arrangement. It was true that Lady Joan Fitz- 
Warene had invited them to Mowbray, and she had 
some vague intention, some day or other, of deliber- 
ating whether they should avail themselves of this 
kindness; but to decide upon going, and upon going 
instantly, without the least consultation, the least en- 
quiry as to the suitableness of the arrangement, the 
visit of Miss Poinsett abruptly and ungraciously ter- 
minated, for example — all this was vexatious, dis- 
tressing: a mode of management which out of the 
simplest incidents of domestic life contrived to extract 
some degree of perplexity and annoyance. 

'Do you not think, George,' said Lady Marney, 
'that we had better talk it over a little?' 



SYBIL 



lOI 



*Not at all,' said Lord Marney; 'Charles will go, 
and it quite suits me, and therefore what necessity 
for any consultation?' 

*0h! if you and Charles like to go, certainly,* said 
Lady Marney, in a hesitating tone; 'only I shall be 
very sorry to lose your society.' 

'How do you mean lose our society, Arabella? 
Of course you must go with us. I particularly want 
you to go. You are Lady Joan's most intimate friend; 
I believe there is no one she likes so much.' 

'I cannot go the day after to-morrow,' said Lady 
fvlarney, speaking in a whisper, and looking volumes 
of deprecation. 

*I cannot help it,' said Lord Marney; 'you should 
have told me this before. I wrote to Mowbray to- 
day, that we should be with him the day after to- 
morrow, and stay a week.' 

'But you never mentioned it to me,' said Lady 
Marney, slightly blushing, and speaking in a tone of 
gentle reproach. 

'I should like to know when I am to fmd time to 
mention the contents of every letter I write,' said 
Lord Marney: ' particularly with all the vexatious busi- 
ness I have had on my hands to-day. But so it is; 
the more one tries to save you trouble, the more dis- 
contented you get.' 

'No, not discontented, George.' 

'I do not know what you call discontented: but 
when a man has made every possible arrangement to 
please you and everybody, and all his plans are to be 
set aside, merely because the day he has fixed on does 
not exactly suit your fancy, if that be not discon- 
tent, I should hke very much to know what is, Ara- 
bella.' 



I02 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Lady Marney did not reply. Always sacrificed, al- 
ways yielding, the moment she attempted to express 
• an opinion, she ever seemed to assume the position, 
not of the injured, but the injurer. 

Arabella was a woman of abilities, which she had 
cultivated. She had excellent sense, and possessed 
many admirable quahties; she was far from being de- 
void of sensibility; but her sweet temper shrank from 
controversy, and nature had not endowed her with a 
spirit which could direct and control. She yielded 
without a struggle to the arbitrary will and unreason- 
able caprice of a husband who was scarcely her equal 
in intellect, and far her inferior in all the genial quali- 
ties of our nature, but who governed her by his iron 
selfishness. 

Lady Marney absolutely had no will of her own. 
A hard, exact, literal, bustling, acute being environed 
her existence; directed, planned, settled everything. 
Her life was a series of petty sacrifices and baulked 
enjoyments. If her carriage were at the door, she was 
never certain that she should not have to send it 
away; if she had asked some friends to her house, 
the chances were she should have to put them off; 
if she were reading a novel, Lord Marney asked her 
to copy a letter; if she were going to the opera, she 
found that Lord Marney had got seats for her and 
some friend in the House of Lords, and seemed ex- 
pecting the strongest expressions of delight and 
gratitude from her for his unasked and inconvenient 
kindness. Lady Marney had struggled against this 
tyranny in the earlier days of their union. Innocent, 
inexperienced Lady Marney! As if it were possible 
for a wife to contend against a selfish husband, at 
once sharp-witted and blunt-hearted! She had ap- 



SYBIL 



pealed to him, she had even reproached him; she had 
wept, once she had knelt. But Lord Marney looked 
upon these demonstrations as the disordered sensi- 
bility of a girl unused to the marriage state, and ig- 
norant of the wise authority of husbands, of which 
he deemed himself a model. And so, after a due 
course of initiation, Lady Marney, invisible for days, 
plunged in remorseful reveries in the mysteries of 
her boudoir, and her lord dining at a club, and going 
to the minor theatres, the countess was broken in. 

Lord Marney, who was fond of chess, turned out 
Captain Grouse, and gallantly proposed to finish his 
game with Miss Poinsett, which Miss Poinsett, who 
understood Lord Marney as well as he understood 
chess, took care speedily to lose, so that his lordship 
might encounter a champion worthy of him. Egre- 
mont, seated by his sister-in-law, and anxious by kind 
words to soothe the irritation which he had observed 
with pain his brother create, entered into easy talk, 
and, after some time, said, ' I find you have been 
good enough to mould my destiny.' 

Lady Marney looked a little surprised, and then 
said, 'How so?' 

'You have decided on, I hear, the most important 
step of my life.' 

'Indeed you perplex me.' 

'Lady Joan Fitz-Warene, your friend — ' 

The countess blushed; the name was a clue which 
she could follow, but Egremont nevertheless suspected 
that the idea had never previously occurred to her. 
Lady Joan she described as not beautiful; certainly not 
beautiful; nobody would consider her beautiful, many 
would, indeed, think her quite the reverse; and yet 
she had a look, one particular look, when, according 



I04 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



to Lady Marney, she was more than beautiful. But 
she was very clever, very indeed, something quite 
extraordinary. 

' Accomplished ? ' 

*Oh! far beyond that; I have heard even men say 
that no one knew so much.' 
* A regular blue ? ' 

'Oh! no; not at all a blue; not that kind of 
knowledge. But languages and learned books; Arabic, 
and Hebrew, and old manuscripts. And then she has 
an observatory, and was the first person who discov- 
ered the comet. Dr. Buckland swears by her; and 
she corresponds with Arago.' 

' And her sister, is she the same ? ' 

'Lady Maud: she is very religious. I do not know 
her so well.' 

'Is she pretty.^' 

'Some people admire her much.' 
'I never was at Mowbray, what sort of a place is 
it?' 

'Oh! it is very grand,' said Lady Marney; 'but, 
like all places in the manufacturing districts, very dis- 
agreeable. You never have a clear sky. Your toilette 
table is covered with blacks; the deer in the park 
seem as if they had bathed in a lake of Indian ink; 
and as for the sheep, you expect to see chimney- 
sweeps for the shepherds.' 

'And do you really mean to go on Thursday.^' 
said Egremont: 'I think we had better put it off.' 

'We must go,' said Lady Marney, with a sort of 
sigh, and shaking her head. 

'Let me speak to Marney.' 

'Oh! no. We must go. I am annoyed about this 
dear little Poinsett: she has been to stay with me so 



SYBIL 



105 



very often, and she has been here only three days. 
When she comes in again, I wish you would ask her 
to sing, Charles.' 

Soon the dear little Poinsett was singing, much 
gratified by being invited to the instrument by Mr. 
Egremont, who for a few minutes hung over her, 
and then, evidently under the influence of her tones, 
walked up and down the room, and only speaking to 
beg that she would continue her charming perform- 
ances. Lady Marney was engrossed with her em- 
broidery; her lord and the captain with their game. 

And of what was Egremont thinking .^^ Of Mow- 
bray, be you sure. And of Lady Joan or Lady Maud ? 
Not exactly. Mowbray was the name of the town to 
which the strangers he had met with in the Abbey 
were bound. It was the only piece of information 
that he had been able to obtain of them; and that 
casually. 

When the fair vision of the starlit arch, about to 
descend to her two companions, perceived that they 
were in conversation with a stranger, she hesitated, 
and in a moment withdrew. Then the elder of the 
travellers, exchanging a glance with his friend, bade 
good even to Egremont. 

'Our way perhaps lies the same?' said Egremont. 

M should deem not,' said the stranger, 'nor are 
we alone.' 

'And we must be stirring, for we have far to go,' 
said he who was dressed in black. 

'My journey is brief,' said Egremont, making a 
desperate effort to invite communication; 'and I am 
on horseback!' 

'And we on foot,' said the elder; 'nor shall we 
stop till we reach Mowbray;' and, with a slight 



io6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



salute, they left Egremont alone. There was some- 
thing in the manner of the elder stranger which 
repressed the possibility of Egremont following him. 
Leaving then the cloister garden in another direction, 
he speculated on meeting them outside the Abbey. 
He passed through the Lady's chapel. The beautiful 
Religious was not there. He gained the west front; 
no one was visible. He took a rapid survey of each 
side of the Abbey; not a being to be recognised. He 
fancied they must have advanced towards the Abbey 
farm; yet they might have proceeded further on in 
the dale. Perplexed, he lost time. Finally he pro- 
ceeded towards the farm, but did not overtake them; 
reached it, but learned nothing of them; and arrived 
at his brother's full of a strange yet sweet perplexity. 



CHAPTER XIII. 




Transformation of a Waiter 
TO A Nabob. 

5 V.^i^#^"^w^°'5 N A commercial country like Eng- 
land, every half century develops 
some new and vast source of pub- 
lic wealth, which brings into na- 
tional notice a new and powerful 
class. A couple of centuries ago, 
a turkey merchant was the great creator of wealth; the 
West India planter followed him. In the middle of the 
last century appeared the nabob. These characters in 
their zenith in turn merged in the land, and became 
Enghsh aristocrats; while, the Levant decaying, the 
West Indies exhausted, and Hindostan plundered, the 
breeds died away, and now exist only in our English 
comedies, from Wycherly and Congreve to Cumber- 
land and Morton. The expenditure of the revolutionary 
war produced the loanmonger, who succeeded the 
nabob; and the application of science to industry 
developed the manufacturer, who in turn aspires to 
be Marge acred,' and always will, so long as we 
have a territorial constitution ; a better security for the 
preponderance of the landed interest than any corn- 
law, fixed or fluctuating. 

Of all these characters, the one that on the whole 
made the largest fortunes in the most rapid manner, 

(107; 



io8 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



and we do not forget the marvels of the Waterloo 
loan, or the miracles of Manchester during the Con- 
tinental blockade, was the Anglo-East-lndian about the 
time that Hastings was first appointed to the great 
viceroyalty. It was not unusual for men in positions 
so obscure that their names had never reached the 
public in this country, and who yet had not been 
absent from their native land for a longer period 
than the siege of Troy, to return with their million. 

One of the most fortunate of this class of obscure 
adventurers was a certain John Warren. A few years 
before the breaking out of the American war, he was 
a waiter at a celebrated club in St. James' Street; a 
quick, yet steady young fellow; assiduous, discreet, 
and very civil. In this capacity, he pleased a gentle- 
man who was just appointed to the government of 
Madras, and who wanted a valet. Warren, though 
prudent, was adventurous; and accepted the opening 
which he believed fortune offered him. He was 
prescient. The voyage in those days was an affair of 
six months. During this period. Warren still more 
ingratiated himself with his master. He wrote a good 
hand, and his master a very bad one. He had a 
natural talent for accounts; a kind of information 
which was useful to his employer. He arrived at 
Madras, no longer a valet, but a private secretary. 

His master went out to make a fortune; but he was 
indolent and had indeed none of the quahties for suc- 
cess, except his great position. Warren had every qual- 
ity but that. The basis of the confederacy therefore 
was intelligible; it was founded on mutual interests and 
cemented by reciprocal assistance. The governor 
granted monopolies to the secretary, who app ortioned a 
due share to his sleeping partner. There appeared one 



SYBIL 



of those dearths not unusual in Hindostan; the popula- 
tion of the famished province cried out for rice; the 
stores of which, diminished by nature, had for months 
mysteriously disappeared. A provident administration 
it seems had invested the pubhc revenue in its be- 
nevolent purchase; the misery was so excessive that 
even pestilence was anticipated, when the great fore- 
stallers came to the rescue of the people over whose 
destinies they presided; and at the same time fed, and 
pocketed, milHons. 

This was the great stroke of the financial genius 
of Warren. He was satisfied. He longed once more 
to see St. James' Street, and to become a member of 
the club where he had once been a waiter. But he 
was the spoiled child of fortune, who would not so 
easily spare him. The governor died, and appointed 
his secretary his sole executor. Not that his Excel- 
lency particularly trusted his agent, but he dared not 
confide the knowledge of his affairs to any other in- 
dividual. The estate was so complicated that War- 
ren offered the heirs a good round sum for his 
quittance, and to take the settlement upon himself 
India so distant, and Chancery so near, the heirs ac- 
cepted the proposition. Winding up this estate. War- 
ren avenged the cause of plundered provinces; and 
the House of Commons itself, with Burke and Francis 
at its head, could scarcely have mulcted the late gov- 
ernor more severely. 

A Mr. Warren, of whom no one had ever heard 
except that he was a nabob, had recently returned 
from India, and purchased a large estate in the north 
of England; was returned to Parliament one of the 
representatives of a close borough which he had also 
purchased; a quiet, gentlemanlike, middle-aged man. 



no BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



with no decided political opinions; and, as parties 
were then getting equal, of course much courted. 
The throes of Lord North's administration were com- 
mencing. The minister asked the new member to 
dine with him, and found the new member singularly 
free from all party prejudices. Mr. Warren was one 
of those members who announced their determination 
to listen to the debates and to be governed by the 
arguments. All complimented him, all spoke to him. 
Mr. Fox declared that he was a most superior man; 
Mr. Burke said that these were the men who could 
alone save the country. Mrs. Crewe asked him to 
supper; he was caressed by the most brilliant of 
duchesses. 

At length there arrived one of those fierce trials of 
strength, which precede the fall of a minister, but 
which sometimes, from peculiar circumstances, as in 
the instances of Walpole and Lord North, are not 
immediate in their results. How would Warren vote.^ 
was the great question. He would listen to the argu- 
ments. Burke was full of confidence that he should 
catch Warren. The day before the debate there was 
a levee, which Mr. Warren attended. The Sovereign 
stopped him, spoke to him, smiled on him, asked 
him many questions: about himself, the House of 
Commons, how he liked it, how he liked England. 
There was a flutter in the circle; a new favourite at 
court. 

The debate came off, the division took place. Mr. 
Warren voted for the minister. Burke denounced 
him; the king made him a baronet. 

Sir John Warren made a great alliance, at least for 
him; he married the daughter of an Irish earl; became 
one of the king's friends; supported Lord Shelburne, 



SYBIL 



III 



threw over Lord Shelburne, had the tact early to dis- 
cover that Mr. Pitt was the man to stick to; stuck to 
him. Sir John Warren bought another estate, and 
picked up another borough. He was fast becoming a 
personage. Throughout the Indian debates he kept 
himself quiet; once indeed in vindication of Mr. Has- 
tings, whom he greatly admired, he ventured to cor- 
rect Mr. Francis on a point of fact with which he was 
personally acquainted. He thought that it was safe, 
but he never spoke again. He knew not the resources 
of vindictive genius or the powers of a malignant 
imagination. Burke owed the nabob a turn for the 
vote which had gained him a baronetcy. The orator 
seized the opportunity, and alarmed the secret con- 
science of the Indian adventurer by his dark allusions 
and his fatal familiarity with the subject. 

Another estate, however, and another borough 
were some consolation for this little misadventure; 
and in time the French Revolution, to Sir John's great 
relief, turned the public attention for ever from Indian 
affairs. The nabob, from the faithful adherent of Mr. 
Pitt, had become even his personal friend. The wits, 
indeed, had discovered that he had been a waiter; 
and endless were the epigrams of Fitzpatrick and the 
jokes of Hare; but Mr. Pitt cared nothing about the 
origin of his supporters. On the contrary. Sir John was 
exactly the individual from whom the minister meant 
to carve out his plebeian aristocracy; and, using his 
friend as a feeler before he ventured on his greater 
operations, the nabob one morning was transformed 
into an Irish baron. 

The new Baron figured in his patent as Lord Fitz- 
Warene, his Norman origin and descent from the old 
barons of this name having been discovered at Heralds' 



112 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



College. This was a rich harvest for Fitzpatrick and 
Hare; but the public gets accustomed to everything, 
and has an easy habit of faith. The new Baron cared 
nothing for ridicule, for he was working for posterity. 
He was compensated for every annoyance by the re- 
membrance that the St. James' Street waiter was en- 
nobled, and by his determination that his children 
should rank still higher in the proud peerage of his 
country. So he obtained the royal permission to re- 
sume the surname and arms of his ancestors, as well 
as their title. 

There was an ill-natured story set afloat that Sir 
John owed this promotion to having lent money to 
the minister; but this was a calumny. Mr. Pitt never 
borrowed money of his friends. Once, indeed, to save 
his library, he took a thousand pounds from an indi- 
vidual on whom he had conferred high rank and im- 
mense promotion: and this individual, who had the 
minister's bond when Mr. Pitt died, insisted on his 
right, and actually extracted the i,ooo/. from the in- 
solvent estate of his magnificent patron. But Mr. Pitt 
always preferred a usurer to a friend; and to the last 
day of his life borrowed money at fifty per cent. 

The nabob departed this life before the minister, 
but he lived long enough to realise his most aspiring 
dream. Two years before his death, the Irish baron 
was quietly converted into an English peer; and with- 
out exciting any attention, all the squibs of Fitz- 
patrick, all the jokes of Hare, quite forgotten, the 
waiter of the St. James' Street club took his seat in 
the most natural manner possible in the House of 
Lords. 

The great estate of the late Lord Fitz-Warene was 
situate at Mowbray, a village which principally be- 



SYBIL' 



"3 



longed to him, and near which he had raised a Gothic 
castle, worthy of his Norman name and ancestry. 
Mowbray was one of those places which, during the 
long war, had expanded from an almost unknown 
village to a large and flourishing manufacturing town ; 
a circumstance which, as Lady Marney observed, 
might have somewhat deteriorated the atmosphere of 
the splendid castle, but which had nevertheless trebled 
the vast rental of its lord. He who had succeeded to 
his father was Altamont Belvedere, named after his 
mother's family, Fitz-Warene, Lord Fitz-Warene. He 
was not deficient in abilities, though he had not his 
father's talents, but he was over-educated for his in- 
tellect; a common misfortune. The new Lord Fitz- 
Warene was the most aristocratic of breathing beings. 
He most fully, entirely, and absolutely believed in his 
pedigree; his coat-of-arms was emblazoned on every 
window, embroidered on every chair, carved in every 
corner. Shortly after his father's death, he was united 
to the daughter of a ducal house, by whom he had a 
son and two daughters, christened by names which 
the ancient records of the Fitz-Warenes authorised. 
His son, who gave promise of abilities which might 
have rendered the family really distinguished, was 
Valence; his daughters, Joan and Maud. All that 
seemed wanting to the glory of the house was a great 
distinction, of which a rich peer, with six seats in 
the House of Commons, could not ultimately despair. 
Lord Fitz-Warene aspired to rank among the earls of 
England. But the successors of Mr, Pitt were strong; 
they thought the Fitz-Warenes had already been too 
rapidly advanced; it was whispered that the king did 
not like the new man; that his Majesty thought him 
pompous, full of pretence, in short, a fool. But though 

14 B. D.— 8 



114 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

the successors of Mr. Pitt managed to govern the 
country for twenty years, and were generally very 
strong, in such an interval of time, however good 
their management or great their luck, there were in- 
evitably occasions when they found themselves in 
difficulties, when it was necessary to conciliate the 
lukewarm or to reward the devoted. Lord Fitz-War- 
ene well understood how to avail himself of these 
occasions: it was astonishing how conscientious and 
scrupulous he became during Walcheren expeditions, 
Manchester massacres, Queen's trials. Every scrape 
of the government was a step in the ladder to the 
great borough-monger. The old king, too, had disap- 
peared from the stage; and the tawdry grandeur of 
the great Norman peer rather suited George the Fourth. 
He was rather a favourite at the Cottage; they wanted 
his six votes for Canning; he made his terms; and 
one of the means by which we got a man of genius 
for a minister was elevating Lord Fitz-Warene in the 
peerage, by the style and title of Earl de Mowbray of 
Mowbray Castle. 




CHAPTER XIV. 
The Fair Religious. 

E MUST now for a while return to 
the strangers of the Abbey ruins. 
When the two men had joined the 
beautiful Religious, whose appari- 
tion had so startled Egremont, they 
all three quitted the Abbey by a way 
which led them by the back of the cloister garden, and 
so on by the bank of the river for about a hundred 
yards, when they turned up the winding glen of a 
dried-up tributary stream. At the head of the glen, 
at which they soon arrived, was a beer-shop, screened 
by some huge elms from the winds that blew over 
the vast moor, which, except in the direction of Mar- 
dale, now extended as far as the eye could reach. 
Here the companions stopped, the beautiful Religious 
seated herself on a stone bench beneath the trees, 
while the elder stranger, calling out to the inmate of 
the house to apprise him of his return, himself pro- 
ceeded to a neighbouring shed, whence he brought 
forth a small rough pony, with a rude saddle, but 
one evidently intended for a female rider. 

*It is well,' said the taller of the men, 'that I am 
not a member of a temperance society like you, Ste- 

(115) 



ii6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



phen, or it would be difficult to reward this good 
man for his care of our steed. I will take a cup of 
the drink of Saxon kings.' Then leading up the pony 
to the Religious, he placed her on its back with gen- 
tleness and much natural grace, saying at the same 
time in a subdued tone, 'And you; shall I bring you 
a glass of nature's wine?* 

'I have drunk of the spring of the Holy Abbey,' 
said the Religious, 'and none other must touch my 
lips this eve.* 

'Come, our course must be brisk,' said the elder 
of the men, as he gave up his glass to their host and 
led off the pony, Stephen walking on the other side. 

Though the sun had fallen, the twilight was still 
glowing, and even on this wide expanse the air was 
still. The vast and undulating surface of the brown 
and purple moor, varied occasionally by some fantas- 
tic rocks, gleamed in the shifting light. Hesperus 
was the only star that yet was visible, and seemed 
to move before them and lead them on their journey. 

'I hope,' said the Religious, turning to the elder 
stranger, * if ever we regain our right, my father, and 
that we ever can, save by the interposition of divine 
will, seems to me clearly impossible, that you will 
never forget how bitter it is to be driven from the 
soil; and that you will bring back the people to the 
land.' 

'I would pursue our right for no other cause,' said 
the father. 'After centuries of sorrow and degrada- 
tion, it should never be said that we had no sympa- 
thy with the sad and the oppressed.' 

'After centuries of sorrow and degradation,' said 
Stephen, 'let it not be said that you acquire your 
right only to create a baron or a squire.* 



SYBIL 



117 



*Nay, thou shalt have thy way, Stephen,' said his 
companion, smiling, 'if ever the good hour come. As 
many acres as thou choosest for thy new Jerusa- 
lem/ 

'Call it what you will, Walter,' replied Stephen; 
'but if I ever gain the opportunity of fully carrying 
the principle of association into practice, I will sing 
Nunc me dimities.' 

'Nunc me dimities,' burst forth the Religious, 
in a voice of thrilling melody, and she pursued for 
some minutes the divine canticle. Her companions 
gazed on her with an air of affectionate reverence as 
she sang; each instant the stars becoming brighter, 
the wide moor assuming a darker hue. 

'Now, tell me, Stephen,' said the Religious, turn- 
ing her head and looking round with a smile, 'think 
you not it would be a fairer lot to bide this night at 
some kind monastery, than to be hastening now to 
that least picturesque of all creations, a railway sta- 
tion ?' 

'The railways will do as much for mankind as 
the monasteries did,' said Stephen. 

' Had it not been for the railway, we should never 
have made our visit to Marney Abbey,' said the elder 
of the travellers. 

'Nor seen its last abbot's tomb,' said the Religious. 
'When I marked your name upon the stone, my 
father, — woe is me, but I felt sad indeed, that it was 
reserved for our blood to surrender to ruthless men 
that holy trust.' 

'He never surrendered,* said her father. 'He was 
tortured and hanged.' 

'He is with the communion of saints,' said the 
Religious. 



ii8 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'I would I could see a communion of men,' said 
Stephen, 'and then there would be no more violence, 
for there would be no more plunder.' 

'You must regain our lands for us, Stephen,' said 
the Religious; 'promise me, my father, that I shall 
raise a holy house for pious women, if that ever hap.' 

'We will not forget our ancient faith,' said her 
father, 'the only old thing that has not left us.' 

'1 cannot understand,' said Stephen, 'why you 
should ever have lost sight of these papers, Walter.' 

' You see, friend, they were never in my posses- 
sion; they were never mine when I saw them. They 
were my father's; and he was jealous of all interfer- 
ence. He was a small yeoman, who had risen in 
the war time, well-to-do in the world, but always 
hankering after the old tradition that the lands were 
ours. This Hatton got hold of him; he did his work 
well, I have heard; — certain it is, my father spared 
nothing. It is twenty-five years come Martinmas 
since he brought his writ of right; and though baf- 
fled, he was not beaten. But then he died; his af- 
fairs were in great confusion; he had mortgaged his 
land for his writ, and the war prices were gone. 
There were debts that could not be paid. I had no 
capital for a farm. I would not sink to be a labourer 
on the soil that had once been our own. I had just 
married; it was needful to make a great exertion. I 
had heard much of the high wages of this new in- 
dustry; 1 left the land.' 

'And the papers?' 

' I never thought of them, or thought of them with 
disgust, as the cause of my ruin. Then when you 
came the other day, and showed me in the book that 
the last Abbot of Marney was a Walter Gerard, the 



SYBIL 



119 



old feeling stirred again; and I could not help telling 
you that my fathers fought at Azincourt, though 1 
was only the overlooker at Mr. Trafford's mill.' 

'A good old name of the good old faith,' said the 
Religious; 'and a blessing be on it!' 

'We have cause to bless it/ said Gerard. M 
thought it then something to serve a gentleman; and 
as for my daughter, she, by their goodness, was 
brought up in holy walls, which have made her what 
she is.' 

'Nature made her what she is,' said Stephen, in a 
low voice, and speaking not without emotion. Then he 
continued, in a louder and brisker tone, 'But this 
Hatton; you know nothing of his whereabouts.?' 

'Never heard of him since. I had indeed, about a 
year after my father's death, cause to enquire after 
him; but he had quitted Mowbray, and none could 
give me tidings of him. He had lived, I believe, on 
our lawsuit, and vanished with our hopes.' 

After this there was silence; each was occupied 
with his thoughts, while the influence of the soft 
night and starry hour induced to contemplation. 

'I hear the murmur of the train,' said the Reli- 
gious. 

"Tis the up-train,' said her father. 'We have yet 
a quarter of an hour; we shall be in good time.' 

So saying, he guided the pony to where some 
lights indicated the station of the railway, which here 
crossed the moor. There was just time to return the 
pony to the person at the station from whom it had 
been borrowed, and obtain their tickets, when the 
bell of the down-train sounded, and in a few minutes 
the Religious and her companions were on their way to 
Mowbray, whither a course of two hours carried them. 



I20 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

It was two hours to midnight when they arrived 
at Mowbray station, which was about a quarter of a 
mile from the town. Labour had long ceased; a 
beautiful heaven, clear and serene, canopied the city 
of smoke and toil; in all directions rose the columns 
of the factories, dark and defined in the purple sky; a 
glittering star sometimes hovering by the crest of their 
tall and tapering forms. 

The travellers proceeded in the direction of a sub- 
urb, and approached the high wall of an extensive 
garden. The moon rose as they reached it, tipped 
the trees with light, and revealed a lofty and centre 
portal, by the side of it a wicket, at which Gerard 
rang. The wicket was quickly opened. 

'I fear, holy sister,' said the Religious, 'that I am 
even later than I promised.' 

'Those that come in our Lady's name are ever 
welcome,' was the reply. 

'Sister Marion,' said Gerard to the portress, 'we 
have been to visit a holy place.' 

' All places are holy with holy thoughts, my 
brother.' 

'Dear father, good night,' said the Religious; 'the 
blessings of all the saints be on thee; and on thee, 
Stephen, though thou dost not kneel to them!' 

'Good night, mine own child,' said Gerard. 

'I could believe in saints when I am with thee,' 
murmured Stephen. 'Good night,— Sybil.' 



CHAPTER XV. 




Young Blood. 

HEN Gerard and his friend quitted 
^ the convent they proceeded at a 
brisk pace into the heart of the 
town. The streets were nearly 
empty; and, with the exception of 
some occasional burst of brawl or 
merriment from a beer-shop, all was still. The chief 
street of Mowbray, called Castle Street, after the ruins 
of the old baronial stronghold in its neighbourhood, 
was as significant of the present civilisation of this 
community as the haughty keep had been of its ancient 
dependence. The dimensions of Castle Street were 
not unworthy of the metropolis: it traversed a great 
portion of the town, and was proportionately wide; 
its broad pavements and its blazing gas-lights indicated 
its modern order and prosperity; while on each side 
of the street rose huge warehouses, not as beautiful 
as the palaces of Venice, but in their way not less 
remarkable; magnificent shops; and, here and there, 
though rarely, some ancient factory built among the 
fields in the infancy of Mowbray by some mill-owner 
not sufficiently prophetic of the future, or sufficiently 
confident in the energy and enterprise of his fellow- 

(121) 



122 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



citizens, to foresee that the scene of his labours 
would be the future eyesore of a flourishing poster- 
ity. 

Pursuing their course along Castle Street for about 
a quarter of a mile, Gerard and Stephen turned down 
a street which intersected it, and so on, through a 
variety of ways and winding lanes, till they arrived 
at an open portion of the town, a district where 
streets and squares, and even rows, disappeared, and 
where the tall chimneys and bulky barrack-looking 
buildings that rose in all directions, clustering yet 
isolated, announced that they were in the principal 
scene of the industry of Mowbray. Crossing this 
open ground, they gained a suburb, but one of a 
very different kind from that in which was situate 
the convent where they had parted with Sybil. This 
one was populous, noisy, and lighted. It was Satur- 
day night; the streets were thronged; an infinite 
population kept swarming to and from the close 
courts and pestilential cul-de-sacs that continually 
communicated with the streets by narrow archways, 
like the entrance of hives, so low that you were 
obliged to stoop for admission: while ascending to 
these same streets from their dank and dismal dwell- 
ings by narrow flights of steps, the subterraneous 
nation of the cellars poured forth to enjoy the cool- 
ness of the summer night, and market for the day of 
rest. The bright and lively shops were crowded; and 
groups of purchasers were gathered round the stalls, 
that, by the aid of glaring lamps and flaunting lanterns, 
displayed their wares. 

'Come, come, it's a prime piece,' said a jolly- 
looking woman, who was presiding at a stall which, 
though considerably thinned by previous purchasers, 



SYBIL 



123 



still ofifered many temptations to many who could 
not purchase. 

'And so it is, widow,' said a little pale man, 
wistfully. 

*Come, come, it's getting late, and your wife's 
ill; you're a good soul, we'll say fi'pence a pound, 
and ril throw you the scrag end in for love.' 

'No butcher's meat to-morrow for us, widow,' 
said the man. 

'And why not, neighbour? with your wages, you 
ought to live like a prize-fighter, or the Mayor of 
Mowbray at least.' 

'Wages!' said the man: 'I wish you may get 
'em. Those villains. Shuffle and Screw, have sarved 
me with another bate ticket; and a pretty figure too.' 

'Oh! the carnal monsters!' exclaimed the widow. 
'If their day don't come, the bloody-minded knaves!' 

'And for small cops, too! Small cops be hanged! 
Am I the man to send up a bad-bottomed cop. 
Widow Carey?' 

'You sent up for snicks! I have known you man 
and boy, John Hill, these twenty summers, and never 
heard a word against you till you got into Shuffle 
and Screw's mill. Oh! they are a bad yarn, John.' 

'They do us all, widow. They pretends to give 
the same wages as the rest, and works it out in fines. 
You can't come, and you can't go, but there's a fine; 
you're never paid wages but there's a bate ticket. 
I've heard they keep their whole establishment on 
factory fines.' 

' Soul alive, but those Shuffle and Screw are rot- 
ten, snickey, bad yarns,' said Mistress Carey. 'Now, 
ma'am, if you please; fi'pence ha'penny; no, ma'am, 
we've no weal left. Weal, indeed! you look wery 



124 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



like a soul as feeds on weal/ continued Mrs. Carey in 
an undertone as her declining customer moved away. 
'Well, it gets late,' said the widow, 'and if you like 
to take this scrag end home to your wife, neigh- 
bour Hill, we can talk of the rest next Saturday. And 
what's your will, Sir?' said the widow, with a stern 
expression, to a youth who now stopped at her stall. 

He was about sixteen, with a lithe figure, and a 
handsome, faded, impudent face. His long, loose 
white trousers gave him height; he had no waistcoat, 
but a pink silk handkerchief was twisted carelessly 
round his neck, and fastened with a large pin, which, 
whatever were its materials, had unquestionably a 
gorgeous appearance. A loose frock-coat of a coarse 
white cloth, and fastened by one button round his 
waist, completed his habiliments, with the addition 
of the covering to his head, a high-crowned dark- 
brown hat, which relieved his complexion, and 
heightened the effect of his mischievous blue eye. 

'Well you need not be so fierce. Mother Carey,' 
said the youth, with an affected air of deprecation. 

'Don't mother me,' said the jolly widow, with a 
kindhng eye; 'go to your own mother, who is dying 
in a back cellar without a winder, while you've got 
lodgings in a two-pair.' 

'Dying! she's only drunk,' said the youth. 

'And if she is only drunk,' rejoined Mrs. Carey, in 
a passion, 'what makes her drink but toil? working 
from five o'clock in the morning to seven o'clock at 
night, and for the like of such as you.' 

'That's a good one,' said the youth. 'I should 
like to know what my mother ever did for me, but 
give me treacle and laudanum when I was a baby to 
stop my tongue and fill my stomach; by the token of 



SYBIL 



which, as rny gal says, she stunted the growth of 
the prettiest figure in all Mowbray.' And here the 
youth drew himself up, and thrust his hands in the 
side pockets of his pea-jacket. 

'Well, I never!' said Mrs. Carey. 'No; I never 
heard a thing like that!' 

' What, not when you cut up the jackass and sold 
it for veal cutlets, mother?' 

' Hold your tongue, Mr. Imperence,' said the widow. 
' It's very well known you're no Christian, and who'll 
believe what you say?' 

'It's very well known that I'm a man what pays 
his way,' said the boy, 'and don't keep a huckster's 
stall to sell carrion by starlight; but live in a two-pair, 
if you please, and has a wife and family, or as good.' 

' Oh ! you aggravating imp ! ' exclaimed the widow, 
in despair, unable to wreak her vengeance on one 
who kept in a secure position, and whose movements 
were as nimble as his words. 

' Why, Madam Carey, what has Dandy Mick done 
to thee ? ' said a good-humoured voice. It came from 
one of two factory girls who were passing her stall, 
and stopped. They were gaily dressed, a light hand- 
kerchief tied under the chin, their hair scrupulously 
arranged; they wore coral necklaces and earrings of 
gold. 

'Ah! is it you, my child?' said the widow, who 
was a good-hearted creature. 'The dandy has been 
giving me some of his imperence.' 

'But I meant nothing, dame,' said Mick. 'It was 
fun; only fun.' 

'Well, let it pass,' said Mrs. Carey. *And where 
have you been this long time, my child ? And who's 
your friend?' she added, in a lower tone. 



126 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Well, I have left Mr. Trafford's mill,' said the 
girl. 

'That's a bad job,' said Mrs. Carey; 'for those 
Traffords are kind to their people. It's a great thing 
for a young person to be in their mill.' 

'So it is,' said the girl; 'but then it was so dull. 
1 can't stand a country life, Mrs. Carey. I must have 
company.' 

'Well, I do love a bit of gossip myself,' said Mrs. 
Carey, with great frankness. 

'And then I'm no scholar,' said the girl, 'and never 
could take to learning. And those Traffords had so 
many schools.' 

'Learning is better than house and land,' said 
Mrs. Carey, 'though I'm no scholar myself; but then 
in my time things was different. But young per- 
sons — ' 

'Yes,' said Mick; 'I don't think I could get through 
the day if it wurno' for our Institute.' 

'And what's that.?' asked Mrs. Carey, with a sneer. 

'The Shoddy-Court Literary and Scientific, to be 
sure,' said Mick; 'we have got fifty members, and 
take in three London papers; one "Northern Star" 
and two "Moral Worlds."' 

'And where are you now, child?' continued the 
widow to the girl. 

'I am at Wiggins and Webster's,' said the girl; 
'and this is my partner. We keep house together; 
we have a very nice room in Arbour Court, No. 7, 
high up; it's very airy. If you will take a dish of tea 
with us to-morrow, we expect some friends.' 

'I take it kindly,' said Mrs. Carey; 'and so you 
keep house together! All the children keep house in 
these days. Times is changed indeed!' 



SYBIL 



127 



*And we shall be happy to see you, Mick; and 
Julia, if you are not engaged,' continued the girl; and 
she looked at her friend, a pretty demure girl, who 
immediately said, but in a somewhat faltering tone, 
*0h! that we shall.' 

'And what are you going to do now, Caroline?' 
said Mick. 

'Well, we had no thoughts; but I said to Harriet, 
as it is a fine night, let us walk about as long as we 
can, and then to-morrow we will lie in bed till after- 
noon.' 

'That's all well eno' in winter-time, with plenty 
of baccy,' said Mick, 'but at this season of the year 
I must have life. The moment I came out I bathed 
in the river, and then went home and dressed,' he 
added in a satisfied tone; 'and now I am going to 
the Temple. I'll tell you what, Julia has been pricked 
to-day with a shuttle; 'tis not much, but she can't go 
out: I'll stand treat, and take you and your friend to 
the Temple.' 

'Well, that's delight,' said Caroline. 'There's no 
one does the handsome thing like you. Dandy Mick, 
and I always say so. Oh! I love the Temple! 'Tis 
so genteel! I was speaking of it to Harriet last night; 
she never was there. I proposed to go with her, but 
two girls alone — you understand me. One does not 
like to be seen in these places, as if one kept no 
company.' 

'Very true,' said Mick; 'and now we'll be off. 
Good night, widow.' 

'You'll remember us to-morrow evening,' said 
CaroHne. 

'To-morrow evening! The Temple!' murmured 
Mrs. Carey to herself. '1 think the world is turned 



128 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



upside downwards in these parts. A brat like Mick 
Radley to live in a two-pair, with a wife and family, 
or as good, as he says; and this girl asks me to take 
a dish of tea with her and keeps house! Fathers and 
mothers goes for nothing,' continued Mrs. Carey, as 
she took a very long pinch of snuff, and deeply 
mused. *'Tis the children gets the wages,' she added 
after a profound pause, *and there it is.' 




CHAPTER XVI. 




Devilsdust. 



N THE meantime Gerard and Stephen 
stopped before a tall, thin, stuccoed 
house, balustraded and friezed, 
very much lighted both within 
y and without, and from the sounds 
that issued from it, and the per- 



sons who retired and entered, evidently a locahty of 
great resort and bustle. A sign, bearing the title of 
the Cat and Fiddle, indicated that it was a place 
of public entertainment, and kept by one who owned 
the legal name of John Trottman, though that was 
but a vulgar appellation, lost in his well-earned and 
far-famed title of Chaffmg Jack. 

The companions entered the spacious premises; 
and, making their way to the crowded bar, Stephen, 
with a glance serious but which indicated intimacy, 
caught the eye of a comely lady, who presided over 
the mysteries, and said in a low voice, 'Is he here.?' 

'In the Temple, Mr. Morley, asking for you and 
your friend more than once. I think you had better 
go up. I know he wishes to see you.' 

Stephen whispered to Gerard, and after a mo- 
ment's pause he asked the fair president for a couple 

14 B.D.-<, (129) 



130 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



of tickets, for each of which he paid threepence; a 
sum, however, according to the printed declaration 
of the voucher, convertible into potential liquid re- 
freshments, no great compensation to a very strict 
member of the Temperance Society of Mowbray. 

A handsome staircase with bright brass banisters 
led them to an ample landing-place, on which opened 
a door, now closed, and by which sat a boy who 
collected the tickets of those who would enter it. 
The portal was of considerable dimensions and of 
architectural pretension; it was painted of a bright 
green colour, the panels gilt. Within the pediment, 
described in letters of flaming gas you read, ' The 
Temple of the Muses.' 

Gerard and Morley entered an apartment very long 
and sufficiently lofty, though rather narrow for such 
proportions. The ceiling was even richly decorated; 
the walls were painted, and by a brush of no incon- 
siderable power. Each panel represented some well- 
known scene from Shakespeare, Byron, or Scott; King 
Richard, Mazeppa, the Lady of the Lake, were easily 
recognised: in one panel, Hubert menaced Arthur; here 
Haidee rescued Juan; and there Jeanie Deans curtsied be- 
fore the Queen. The room was very full; some three 
or four hundred persons were seated in different groups 
at different tables, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, 
and even smoking; for, notwithstanding the pictures 
and the gilding, it was found impossible to forbid, 
though there were efforts to discourage, this practice, 
in the Temple of the Muses. Nothing, however, could 
be more decorous than the general conduct of the com- 
pany, though they consisted principally of factory people. 

The waiters flew about with as much agility as 
if they were serving nobles. In general the noise 



SYBIL 



was great, though not disagreeable; sometimes a bell 
rang, and there was comparative silence, while a cur- 
tain drew up at the farther end of the room, opposite 
to the entrance, where there was a theatre, the stage 
raised at a due elevation, and adorned with side 
scenes, from which issued a lady in a fancy dress, 
who sang a favourite ballad; or a gentleman elabo- 
rately habited in a farmer's costume of the old comedy, 
a bob-wig, silver buttons and buckles, and blue stock- 
ings, and who favoured the company with that mel- 
ancholy effusion called a comic song. Some nights 
there was music on the stage; a young lady in a 
white robe with a golden harp, and attended by a 
gentleman in black mustachios. This was when the 
principal harpiste of the King of Saxony and his first 
fiddler happened to be passing through Mowbray, 
merely by accident, or on a tour of pleasure and in- 
struction, to witness the famous scenes of British 
industry. Otherwise the audience of the Cat and 
Fiddle, we mean the Temple of the Muses, were fain 
to be content with four Bohemian brothers, or an 
equal number of Swiss sisters. The most popular 
amusements, however, were the 'Thespian recitations,' 
by amateurs, or novices who wished to become pro- 
fessional. They tried their metal on an audience 
which could be critical. 

A sharp waiter, with a keen eye on the entering 
guests, immediately saluted Gerard and his friend, 
with profuse offers of hospitality, insisting that they 
wanted much refreshment; that they were both 
hungry and thirsty; that, if not hungry, they should 
order something to drink that would give them an 
appetite; if not inclined to quaff, something to eat 
that would make them athirst. In the midst of these 



132 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



embarrassing attentions, he was pushed aside by his 
master with, 'There, go; hands wanted at the upper 
end; two American gentlemen from Lowell singing 
out for sherry cobbler; don't know what it is; give 
them our bar-mixture; if they complain, say it's the 
Mowbray slap-bang, and no mistake. Must have a 
name, Mr. Morley; name's everything; made the 
fortune of the Temple; if I had called it the Saloon, 
it never would have filled, and perhaps the magistrates 
never have granted a licence.' 

The speaker was a portly man, who had passed 
the maturity of manhood, but active as Harlequin. 
He had a well-favoured countenance; fair, good- 
humoured, but sly. He was dressed hke the head 
butler of the London Tavern, and was particular as to 
his white waistcoats and black silk stockings, punctili- 
ous as to his knee-buckles, proud of his diamond pin; 
that is to say, when he officiated at the Temple. 

'Your mistress told us we should find you here,' 
said Stephen, 'and that you wished to see us.' 

'Plenty to tell you,' said their host, putting his 
finger to his nose. 'If information is wanted in this 
part of the world, I flatter myself — Come, Master 
Gerard, here's a table; what shall I call for? glass of 
the Mowbray slap-bang.? No better; the receipt has 
been in our family these fifty years. Mr. Morley I 
know won't join us. Did you say a cup of tea, Mr. 
Morley? Water, only water; well, that's strange. 
Boy, alive there! do you hear me call? Water 
wanted, glass of water for the Secretary of the Mowbray 
Temperance and Teetotal. Sing it out. I like titled 
company. Brush!' 

'And so you can give us some information about 
this — ' 



SYBIL 



133 



*Be back directly,' exclaimed their host, darting 
off with a swift precision that carried him through a 
labyrinth of tables without the slightest inconvenience 
to their occupiers. 'Beg pardon, Mr. Morley/ he 
said, sliding again into his chair; *but saw one of 
the American gentlemen brandishing his bowie-knife 
against one of my waiters; called him Colonel; quieted 
him directly; a man of his rank brawling with a 
help; oh! no; not to be thought of; no squabbling 
here; licence in danger.* 

*You were saying — ' resumed Morley. 

*Ah! yes^ about that man Hatton; remember him 
perfectly well; a matter of twenty, or it may be 
nineteen years since he bolted. Queer fellow; lived 
upon nothing; only drank water; no temperance and 
teetotaj then, so no excuse. Beg pardon, Mr. Morley; 
no offence, I hope; can't bear whims; but respectable 
societies, if they don't drink, they make speeches, 
hire your rooms, leads to business.' 

'And this Hatton?' said Gerard. 

'Ah! a queer fellow; lent him a one-pound note; 
never saw it again; always remember it; last one- 
pound note I had. He offered me an old book 
instead; not in my way; took a china jar for my 
wife. He kept a curiosity shop; always prowling 
about the country, picking up old books and hunting 
after old monuments; called himself an antiquarian; 
queer fellow, that Hatton.' 

'And you have heard of him since?' said Gerard 
rather impatiently. 

'Not a word,' said their host; 'never knew any 
one who had.' 

' I thought you had something to tell us about 
him,' said Stephen. 



134 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

'So I have: I can put you in the way of getting 
hold of him and anything else. I haven't lived in 
Mowbray man and boy for fifty years; seen it a vil- 
lage, and now a great town full of first-rate institu- 
tions and establishments like this,' added their host, 
surveying the Temple with a glance of admiring com- 
placency; 'Isay I haven't lived here all this time and 
talked to the people for nothing.' 

'Well, we are all attention,' said Gerard with a 
smile. 

'Hush!' said their host as a bell sounded, and he 
jumped up. 'Now ladies, now gentlemen, if you 
please; silence if you please, for a song from a Polish 
lady. The Signora sings English like a new-born 
babe;' and the curtain drew up amid the hushed 
voices of the company and the restrained clatter of 
their knives and forks and glasses. 

The Polish lady sang 'Cherry Ripe' to the infinite 
satisfaction of her audience. Young Mowbray indeed, 
in the shape of Dandy Mick, and some of his follow- 
ers and admirers, insisted on an encore. The lady, 
as she retired, curtsied like a prima donna; but the 
host continued on his legs for some time, throwing 
open his coat and bowing to his guests, who ex- 
pressed by their applause how much they approved 
his enterprise. At length he resumed his seat. 'It's 
almost too much,' he exclaimed; 'the enthusiasm of 
these people. I believe they look upon me as a 
father.' 

'And you think you have some clue to this Hat- 
ton?' resumed Stephen. 

'They say he has no relations,' said their host. 
'I have heard as much.' 

'Another glass of the bar-mixture. Master Gerard- 



SYBIL 



What did we call it? Oh! the bricks and beans; the 
Mowbray bricks and beans; known by that name 
in the time of my grandfather. No more! No use 
asking Mr. Morley, I know. Water! well, I must 
say; and yet, in an official capacity, drinking water 
is not so unnatural.' 

'And Hatton,' said Gerard; 'they say he has no 
relations.' 

'They do, and they say wrong. He has a rela- 
tion; he has a brother; and I can put you in the way 
of finding him.' 

'Well, that looks like business,' said Gerard; 'and 
where may he be ? ' 

'Not here,' said their host; 'he never put his 
foot in the Temple, to my knowledge; and lives 
in a place where they have as much idea of popu- 
lar institutions as any Turks or heathen you ever 
heard of.' 

'And where might we find him.?' said Stephen. 

'What's that?' said their host, jumping up and 
looking around him. 'Here, boys, brush about. The 
American gentleman is a-whittling his name on that 
new mahogany table. Take him the printed list of 
rules, stuck up in a public place, under a great-coat, 
and fine him five shillings for damaging the furniture. 
If he resists, he has paid for his liquor, call in the 
police; X Z, No. 5, is in the bar, taking tea with 
your mistress. Now brush.' 

'And this place is — ' 

' In the land of mines and minerals,' said their 
host, ' about ten miles from . He works in met- 
als on his own account. You have heard of a place 
called Hell-house Yard? well, he lives there; and his 
name is Simon.' 



136 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'And does he keep up any communication with 
his brother, think you?' said Gerard. 

'Nay, I know no more, at least at present,' said 
their host. 'The secretary asked me about a person 
absent without leave for twenty years, and who was 
said to have no relations. I found you one, and 
a very near one. You are at the station, and you 
have got your ticket. The American gentleman's 
wiolent. Here's the police. I must take a high 
tone.' And with these words Chaffmg Jack quitted 
them. 

In the meantime we must not forget Dandy Mick 
and his two young friends, whom he had so gener- 
ously offered to treat to the Temple. 

'Well, what do you think of it?' asked CaroHne 
of Harriet, in a whisper, as they entered the splendid 
apartment. 

'It's just What I thought the Queen lived in,' said 
Harriet; 'but, indeed, I'm all of a flutter.' 

'Well, don't look as if you were,' said her friend. 

'Come along, gals,' said Mick; 'who's afraid? 
Here, we'll sit down at this table. Now what shall 
we have? Here, waiter; I say, waiter!' 

'Yes, sir; yes, sir.' 

'Well, why don't you come when I call?' said 
Mick, with a consequential air. 'I have been halloo- 
ing these ten minutes. Couple of glasses of bar- 
mixture for these ladies, and a go of gin for myself. 
And I say, waiter, stop, stop, don't be in such a 
deuced hurry; do you think folks can drink without 
eating? sausages for three; and, damme, take care they 
are not burnt.' 

'Yes, sir; directly, directly.' 

'That's the way to talk to these fellows,' said 



SYBIL 



137 



Mick, with a self-satisfied air, and perfectly repaid by 
the admiring gaze of his companions. 

'It's pretty. Miss Harriet,' said Mick, looking up 
at the ceiling with a careless, nil admirari glance. 

'Oh! it is beautiful,' said Harriet. 

'You never were here before; it's the only place. 
That's the Lady of the Lake,' he added, pointing to 
a picture; 'I've seen her at the Circus, with real 
water.' 

The hissing sausages, crowning a pile of mashed 
potatoes, were placed before them; the delicate rum- 
mers of the Mowbray slap-bang for the girls; the more 
masculine pewter measure for their friend. 

'Are the plates very hot.?' said Mick. 

'Very, sir.' 

'Hot plates half the battle,' said Mick. 

'Now, Caroline; here. Miss Harriet; don't take 
away your plate, wait for the mash; they mash their 
taters here very elegant.' 

It was a happy and a merry party. Mick de- 
lighted to help his guests, and to drink their healths. 

'Well,' said he, when the waiter had cleared away 
their plates, and left them to their less substantial 
luxuries — 'Well,' said Mick, sipping a renewed glass 
of gin-twist, and leaning back in his chair, 'say what 
they please, there's nothing like life.' 

'At the Traffords',' said Caroline, 'the greatest fun 
we ever had was a singing-class.' 

'I pity them poor devils in the country,' said Mick; 
'we got some of them at Collinson's, come from 
Suffolk, they say; what they call hagricultural labour- 
ers; a very queer lot indeed.' 

'Ah! them's the himmigrants,' said Caroline; 
'they're sold out of slavery, and send down by Pick- 



138 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



ford's van into the labour market to bring down our 
wages.' 

'We'll teach them a trick or two before they do 
that,' urged Mick. * Where are you, Miss Harriet?' 

'\ am at Wiggins and Webster's, sir.' 

'Where they clean machinery during meal- time; 
that won't do,' said Mick. M see one of your part- 
ners coming in,' said Mick, making many signals to 
a person who soon joined them. 'Well, Devilsdust, 
how are you.^' 

This was the familiar appellation of a young gen- 
tleman who really had no other, baptismal or patri- 
monial. About a fortnight after his mother had 
introduced him into the world, she returned to her 
factory, and put her infant out to nurse; that is to 
say, paid threepence a week to an old woman, who 
takes charge of these new-born babes for the day, 
and gives them back at night to their mothers as 
they hurriedly return from the scene of their labour 
to the dungeon or the den, which is still by courtesy 
called 'home.' The expense is not great: laudanum 
and treacle, administered in the shape of some popu- 
lar elixir, affords these innocents a brief taste^ of the 
sweets of existence, and, keeping them quiet, pre- 
pares them for the silence of their impending grave. 
Infanticide is practised as extensively and as legally in 
England as it is on the banks of the Ganges; a cir- 
cumstance which apparently has not yet engaged the 
attention of the Society for the Propagation of the 
Gospel in Foreign Parts. But the vital principle is an 
impulse from an immortal Artist, and sometimes 
baffles, even in its tenderest phasis, the machinations 
of society for its extinction. There are infants that 
will defy even starvation and poison, unnatu*--*' 



SYBIL 



139 



mothers and demon nurses. Such was the nameless 
one of whom we speak. We cannot say he thrived; 
but he would not die. So, at two years of age, his 
mother being lost sight of, and the weekly payment 
having ceased, he was sent out in the street to 'play,' 
in order to be run over. Even this expedient failed. 
The youngest and the feeblest of the band of victims. 
Juggernaut spared him to Moloch. All his compan- 
ions were disposed of. Three months' *play' in the 
streets got rid of this tender company, shoeless, half- 
naked, and uncombed, whose age varied from two to 
five years. Some were crushed, some were lost, some 
caught cold and fevers, crept back to their garret or 
their cellars, were dosed with Godfrey's cordial, and 
died in peace. The nameless one would not disap- 
pear. He always got out of the way of the carts and 
horses, and never lost his own. They gave him no 
food: he foraged for himself, and shared with the dogs 
the garbage of the streets. But still he lived; stunted 
and pale, he defied even the fatal fever which was 
the only habitant of his cellar that never quitted it. 
And slumbering at night on a bed of mouldering 
straw, his only protection against the plashy surface 
of his den, with a dung-heap at his head, and a cess- 
pool at his feet, he still clung to the only roof which 
shielded him from the tempest. 

At length, when the nameless one had completed 
his fifth year, the pest which never quitted the nest 
of cellars of which he was a citizen, raged in the 
quarter with such intensity, that the extinction of its 
swarming population was menaced. The haunt of 
this child was peculiarly visited. All the children 
gradually sickened except himself; and one night 
when he returned home he found the old woman 



HO BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

herself dead, and surrounded only by corpses. The 
child before this had slept on the same bed of straw 
with a corpse, but then there were also breathing be- 
ings for his companions. A night passed only with 
corpses seemed to him in itself a kind of death. He 
stole out of the cellar, quitted the quarter of pesti- 
lence, and after much wandering lay down near the 
door of a factory. Fortune had guided him. Soon 
after break of day, he was awakened by the sound 
of the factory bell, and found assembled a crowd of 
men, women, and children. The door opened, they 
entered, the child accompanied them. The roll was 
called; his unauthorised appearance noticed; he was 
questioned; his acuteness excited attention. A child 
was wanting in the Wadding Hole, a place for the 
manufacture of waste and damaged cotton, the refuse 
of the mills, which is here worked up into counter- 
panes and coverlets. The nameless one was preferred 
to the vacant post, received even a salary, more than 
that, a name; for as he had none, he was christened 
on the spot Devilsdust. 

Devilsdust had entered life so early that at seven- 
teen he combined the experience of manhood with 
the divine energy of youth. He was a first-rate work- 
man, and received high wages; he had availed him- 
self of the advantages of the factory school; he soon 
learnt to read and write with facility, and at the mo- 
ment of our history was the leading spirit of the 
Shoddy-court Literary and Scientific Institute. His 
great friend, his only intimate, was Dandy Mick. The 
apparent contrariety of their qualities and structure 
perhaps led to this. It is indeed the most assured 
basis of friendship. Devilsdust was dark and melan- 
choly, ambitious and discontented, full of thought, 



SYBIL 



and with powers of patience and perseverance that 
alone amounted to genius. Mick was as brilliant as 
his complexion; gay, irritable, evanescent, and un- 
stable. Mick enjoyed life; his friend only endured it; 
yet Mick was always complaining of the lowness of 
his wages, and the greatness of his toil; while Devils- 
dust never murmured, but read and pondered on the 
rights of labour, and sighed to vindicate his order. 

M have some thoughts of joining the Total Ab- 
stinence,' said Devilsdust; 'ever since I read Stephen 
Morley's address, it has been in my mind. We shall 
never get our rights till we leave off consuming ex- 
cisable articles; and the best thing to begin with is 
liquors.' 

'Well, I could do without Hquors myself,' said 
Caroline. 'If 1 was a lady, I would never drink any- 
thing except fresh milk from the cow.' 

'Tea for my money,' said Harriet; 'I must say 
there's nothing I grudge for good tea. Now I keep 
house, I mean always to drink the best.' 

'Well, you have not yet taken the pledge. Dusty,' 
said Mick; 'and so suppose we order a go of gin, 
and talk this matter of temperance over.' 

Devilsdust was manageable in little things, espe- 
cially by Mick : he acceded, and seated himself at their 
table. 

' I suppose you have heard this last dodge of Shuffle 
and Screw, Dusty.?' said Mick. 
'What's that.?' 

'Every man had his key given him this evening; 
half-a-crown a week round deducted from wages for 
rent. Jim Plastow told them he lodged with his 
father, and didn't want a house; upon which they said 
he must let it.' 



142 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Their day will come,' said Devilsdust, thought- 
fully. 'I really think that those Shuffles and Screws 
are worse even than Truck and Trett. You knew 
where you were with those fellows; it was five-and- 
twenty per cent, off wages, and very bad stuff for 
your money. But as for Shuffle and Screw, what with 
their fines and their keys, a man never knows what 
he has to spend. Come,' he added, filling his glass, 
'let's have a toast: Confusion to Capital.' 

'That's your sort,' said Mick. 'Come, Caroline; 
drink to your partner's toast. Miss Harriet. Money's 
the root of all evil, which nobody can deny. We'll 
have the rights of labour yet; the ten-hour bill, no 
fines, and no individuals admitted to any work who 
have not completed their sixteenth year.' 

'No, fifteen,' said Caroline, eagerly. 

'The people won't bear their grievances much 
longer,' said Devilsdust. 

'I think one of the greatest grievances the people 
have,' said Caroline, 'is the beaks serving notice on 
Chaffmg Jack to shut up the Temple on Sunday 
nights.' 

'It is infamous,' said Mick; 'ayn't we to have no 
recreation? One might as well live in Suffolk, where 
the immigrants come from, and where they are obliged 
to burn ricks to pass the time.' 

'As for the rights of labour,' said Harriet, 'the 
people goes for nothing with this machinery.' 

'And you have opened your mouth to say a very 
sensible thing. Miss Harriet,' said Mick; 'but if I were 
Lord Paramount for eight-and-forty hours, I'd soon 
settle that question. Wouldn't I fire a broadside into 
their "double deckers"? The battle of Navarino at 
Mowbray fair, with fourteen squibs from the admiral's 



SYBIL 



143 



ship going off at the same time, should be nothing 
to it.' 

'Labour may be weak, but capital is weaker,' said 
Devilsdust. * Their capital is all paper.' 

M tell you what,' said Mick, with a knowing look, 
and in a lowered tone, *the only thing, my hearties, 
that can save this here nation is a good strike.' 



CHAPTER XVII. 




Aubrey St. Lys. 



OUR lordship's dinner is served,' 
announced the groom of the cham- 
bers to Lord de Mowbray; and 
\o the noble lord led out Lady Mar- 
/ ney. The rest followed. Egre- 
mont found himself seated next to 



Lady Maud Fitz-Warene, the younger daughter of the 
earl. Nearly opposite to him was Lady Joan. 

The ladies Fitz-Warene were sandy girls, some- 
what tall, with rather good figures, and a grand air; 
the elder ugly, the second rather pretty; and yet 
both very much alike. They both had great conver- 
sational powers, though in different ways. Lady 
Joan was doctrinal; Lady Maud inquisitive: the first 
often imparted information which you did not pre- 
viously possess; the other suggested ideas which were 
often before in your own mind, but lay tranquil and 
unobserved till called into life and notice by her fanciful 
and vivacious tongue. Both of them were endowed 
with a remarkable self-possession; but Lady Joan 
wanted softness, and Lady Maud repose. 

This was the result of the rapid observation of 
Egremont, who was, however, experienced in the 

(«44) 



SYBIL 



world and quick in his detection of manner and of 
character. 

The dinner was stately, as becomes the high no- 
bility. There were many guests, yet the table seemed 
only a gorgeous spot in the capacious chamber. The 
side tables were laden with silver vases and golden 
shields arranged on shelves of crimson velvet. The 
walls were covered with Fitz-Warenes, De Mowbrays, 
and De Veres. The attendants glided about without 
noise, and with the precision of military discipline. 
They watched your wants, they anticipated your 
wishes, and they supplied all you desired with a lofty 
air of pompous devotion. 

* You came by the railroad ? ' inquired Lord de 
Mowbray mournfully, of Lady Marney. 

'From Marham; about ten miles from us,' rephed 
her ladyship. 

* A great revolution ! ' 
' Isn't it?' 

M fear it has a dangerous tendency to equality/ 
said his lordship, shaking his head: 'I suppose 
Lord Marney gives them all the opposition in his 
power.' 

* There is nobody so violent against railroads as 
George,' said Lady Marney. 'I cannot tell you what 
he does not do! He organised the whole of our di- 
vision against the Marham line!' 

M rather counted on him,' said Lord de Mowbray, 
'to assist me in resisting this joint branch here; but 
I was surprised to learn he had consented.' 

'Not until the compensation was settled,' inno- 
cently remarked Lady Marney; 'George never opposes 
them after that. He gave up all opposition to the 
Marham line when they agreed to his terms.' 

14 B. D.— 10 



146 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'And yet,' said Lord de Mowbray, 'I think if 
Lord Marney would take a different view of the case, 
and look to the moral consequences, he would hesi- 
tate. Equality, Lady Marney, equality is not our 
metier. If we nobles do not make a stand against 
the levelling spirit of the age, I am at a loss to know 
who will fight the battle. You may depend upon it 
that these railroads are very dangerous things.' 

' I have no doubt of it. 1 suppose you have heard 
of Lady Vanilla's trip from Birmingham ? Have you 
not indeed ? She came up with Lady Laura, and two 
of the most gentlemanhke men sitting opposite her; 
never met, she says, two more intelligent men. She 
begged one of them at Wolverhampton to change 
seats with her, and he was most politely willing to 
comply with her wishes, only it was necessary that 
his companion should move at the same time, for 
they were chained together! Two gentlemen, sent 
to town for picking a pocket at Shrewsbury races.' 

* A countess and a felon ! So much for public con- 
veyances,' said Lord Mowbray. 'But Lady Vanilla is 
one of those who will talk with everybody.' 

'She is very amusing, though,' said Lady Marney. 

'I dare say she is,' said Lord de Mowbray; 'but 
believe me, my dear Lady Marney, in these times 
especially, a countess has something else to do than 
be amusing.' 

'You think, as property has its duties as well as 
its rights, rank has its bores as well as its pleasures.' 
Lord Mowbray mused. 

'How do you do, Mr. Jermyn?' said a lively little 
lady with sparkling beady black eyes, and a yellow 
complexion, though with good features: 'when did 
you arrive in the north? I have been fighting your 



SYBIL 



147 



battles finely since I saw you/ she added, shaking 
her head rather with an expression of admonition 
than of sympathy. 

'You are always fighting one's battles, Lady Fire- 
brace; it is very kind of you. If it were not for you, 
we should none of us know how much we are all 
abused,' replied Mr. Jermyn, a young M.P. 

'They say you gave the most radical pledges,' 
said Lady Firebrace eagerly, and not without malice. 
'\ heard Lord Muddlebrains say that if he had had 
the least idea of your principles, you would not have 
had his influence.' 

'Muddlebrains can't command a single vote,' said 
Mr. Jermyn. ' He is a political humbug, the greatest 
of all humbugs; a man who swaggers about London 
clubs and consults solemnly about his influence, and 
in the country is a nonentity.' 

'Well, that can't be said of Lord Clarinel,' rejoined 
Lady Firebrace. 

'And have you been defending me against Lord 
Clarinel's attacks.?' inquired Mr. Jermyn. 

'No; but I am going to Wemsbury, and then I 
have no doubt I shall have the opportunity.' 

'I am going to Wemsbury myself,' said Mr. 
Jermyn. 

' And what does Lord Clarinel think of your pledge 
about the pension list?' said Lady Firebrace, daunted 
but malignant. 

'He never told me,' said Mr. Jermyn. 

'I believe you did not pledge yourself to the bal- 
lot?' inquired Lady Firebrace with an affected air of 
inquisitiveness. 

'It is a subject that requires some reflection,' said 
Mr. Jermyn. ' I must consult some profound poHtician 



148 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



like Lady Firebrace. By-the-bye, you told my mother 
that the Conservatives would have a majority of fifteen. 
Do you think they will have so much?' said Mr. 
Jermyn with an innocent air, it now being notorious 
that the Whig administration had a majority of double 
that amount. 

*1 said Mr. Tadpole gave us a majority of fifteen,' 
said Lady Firebrace. M knew he was in error; be- 
cause I had happened to see Lord Melbourne's own 
list, made up to the last hour; and which gave the 
government a majority of sixty. It was only shown 
to three members of the cabinet,' she added, in a 
tone of triumphant mystery. 

Lady Firebrace, a great stateswoman among the 
Tories, was proud of an admirer who was a member 
of the Whig cabinet. She was rather an agreeable 
guest in a country house, with her extensive corre- 
spondence, and her bulletins from both sides. Tadpole, 
flattered by her notice, and charmed with female 
society that talked his own slang, and entered with 
affected enthusiasm into all his petty plots and barren 
machinations, was vigilant in his communications; 
while her Whig cavalier, an easy individual, who 
always made love by talking or writing politics, 
abandoned himself without reserve, and instructed 
Lady Firebrace regularly after every council. Taper 
looked grave at this connection between Tadpole and 
Lady Firebrace; and whenever an election was lost, 
or a division stuck in the mud, he gave the cue with 
a nod and monosyllable, and the Conservative pack 
that infests clubs, chattering on subjects of which it 
is impossible they can know anything, instantly began 
barking and yelping, denouncing traitors, and wonder- 
ing how the leaders could be so led by the nose and 



SYBIL 



149 



not see that which was flagrant to the whole world. 
If, on the other hand, the advantage seemed to go 
with the Carlton Club, or the opposition benches, 
then it was the Whig and Liberal hounds who 
howled and moaned, explaining everything by the 
indiscretion, infatuation, treason of Lord Viscount 
Masque, and appealing to the initiated world of 
idiots around them, whether any party could ever suc- 
ceed, hampered by such men, and influenced by 
such means. 

The best of the joke was, that all this time Lord 
Masque and Tadpole were two old foxes, neither of 
whom conveyed to Lady Firebrace a single circum- 
stance but with the wish, intention, and malice afore- 
thought, that it should be communicated to his rival. 

'I must get you to interest Lord de Mowbray in 
our cause,' said Sir Vavasour Firebrace, in an insinu- 
ating voice, to his neighbour. Lady Joan; '\ have sent 
him a large packet of documents. You know, he is 
one of us; still one of us. Once a baronet, always a 
baronet. The dignity merges, but does not cease; 
and happy as I am to see one covered with high 
honours who is in every way so worthy of them, 
still I confess to you it is not so much as Earl de 
Mowbray that your worthy father interests me, as in 
his undoubted character and capacity of Sir Altamont 
Fitz-Warene, baronet.' 

'You have the data on which you move, I sup- 
pose, well digested,' said Lady Joan, attentive, but 
not interested. 

'The case is clear; so far as equity is concerned, 
irresistible; indeed the late king pledged himself to a 
certain point. But if you would do me the favour of 
reading our memorial.' 



} 



ISO BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

*The proposition is not one adapted to our pres- 
ent civilisation,' said Lady Joan. *A baronetcy has 
become the distinction of the middle class; a physi- 
cian, our physician for example, is a baronet; and I 
dare say, some of our tradesmen; brewers, or people 
of that class. An attempt to elevate them into an 
order of nobility, however inferior, would partake, in 
some degree, of the ridiculous.' 

'And has the duke escaped his gout this year?' 
inquired Lord Marney of Lady de Mowbray. 

'A slight touch; 1 never knew my father so well. 
I expect you will meet him here. We look for him 
daily.' 

'I shall be delighted; I hope he will come to 
Marney in October. 1 keep the blue ribbon cover for 
him.' 

'What you suggest is very just,' said Egremont to 
Lady Maud. ' If we only, in our own spheres, made the 
exertion, the general effect would be great. Marney 
Abbey, for instance, 1 believe one of the finest of our 
monastic remains, that indeed is not disputed, dimin- 
ished yearly to repair barns; the cattle browsing in 
the nave; all this might be prevented. If my brother 
would not consent to preserve or to restore, still any 
member of the family, even I, without expense, only 
with a little zeal, as you say, might prevent mischief, 
might stop demolition at least.' 

* If this movement in the church had only revived 
a taste for Christian architecture,' said Lady Maud, 'it 
would not have been barren, and it has done so much 
more! But I am surprised that old families can be so 
dead to our national art; so full of our ancestors, their 
exploits, their mind. Indeed you and I have no ex- 
cuse for such indifference, Mr. Egremont.' 



SYBIL 



'And I do not think I shall ever again be justly 
accused of it,' replied Egremont, *you plead its cause 
so effectively. But to tell you the truth, I have been 
thinking of late about these things; monasteries and 
so on; the influence of the old church system on the 
happiness and comfort of the people.' 

'And on the tone of the nobles; do not you think 
so?' said Lady Maud. 'I knov^ it is the fashion to 
deride the crusades, but do not you think they had 
their origin in a great impulse, and, in a certain sense, 
led to great results.? Pardon me if I speak with em- 
phasis, but 1 never can forget 1 am a daughter of the 
first Crusaders.' 

'The tone of society is certainly lower than of 
yore,' said Egremont. 'It is easy to say we view the 
past through a fallacious medium. We have, how- 
ever, ample evidence that men feel less deeply than 
of old, and act with less devotion. But how far is 
this occasioned by the modern position of our church ? 
That is the question.' 

'You must speak to Mr. St. Lys about that,' said 
Lady Maud. 'Do you know him.?' she added in a 
lower tone. 

'No; is he here?' 

'Next to mamma.' 

And, looking in that direction, on the left hand of 
Lady Mowbray, Egremont beheld a gentleman in the 
last year of his youth, if youth according to the scale 
of Hippocrates cease at thirty-five. He was distin- 
guished by that beauty of the noble English blood, of 
which in these days few types remain; the Norman 
tempered by the Saxon; the fire of conquest softened by 
integrity; and a serene, though inflexible habit of mind. 
The chains of convention, an external life grown out 



152 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

of all proportion with that of the heart and mind, 
have destroyed this dignified beauty. There is no 
longer in fact an aristocracy in England, for the su- 
periority of the animal man is an essential quality of 
aristocracy. But that it once existed, any collection 
of portraits from the sixteenth century will show. 

Aubrey St. Lys was a younger son of the most 
ancient Norman family in England. The Conqueror 
had given them the moderate estate on which they 
now lived, and which, in spite of so many civil con- 
flicts and religious changes, they had handed down to 
each other, from generation to generation, for eight 
centuries. Aubrey St. Lys was the vicar of Mowbray. 
He had been the college tutor of the late Lord Fitz- 
Warene, whose mind he had formed, whose bright 
abilities he had cultivated, who adored him. To that 
connection he owed the slight preferment which he 
possessed, but which was all he desired. A bishopric 
would not have tempted him from his peculiar charge. 

In the centre of the town of Mowbray, teeming 
with its toiling thousands, there rose a building which 
might vie with many of the cathedrals of our land. 
Beautiful its solemn towers, its sculptured western 
front; beautiful its columned aisles and lofty nave; its 
sparkling shrine and delicate chantry; most beautiful 
the streaming glories of its vast orient light! 

This magnificent temple, built by the monks of 
Mowbray, and once connected with their famous 
house, of which not a trace now remained, had in 
time become the parish church of an obscure village, 
whose population could not have filled one of its 
side chapels. These strange vicissitudes of ecclesias- 
tical buildings are not singular in the north of Eng- 
land, 



SYBIL 



153 



Mowbray Church remained for centuries the won- 
der of passing peasants, and. the glory of county his- 
tories. But there is a magic in the beautiful buildings 
which exercises an irresistible influence over the mind 
of man. One of the reasons urged for the destruction 
of the monasteries after the dispersion of their in- 
habitants, was the pernicious influence of their solemn 
and stately forms on the memories and imagination 
of those that beheld them. It was impossible to con- 
nect systematic crime with the creators of such divine 
fabrics. And so it was with Mowbray Church. 
When manufactures were introduced into this dis- 
trict, which abounded with all the qualities necessary 
for their successful pursuit, to Mowbray, offering 
equal though not superior advantages to other posi- 
tions, was accorded the preference, ' because it pos- 
sessed such a beautiful church.' The lingering genius 
of the monks of Mowbray hovered round the spot 
which they had adorned, and sanctified, and loved; 
and thus they had indirectly become the authors of 
its present greatness and prosperity. 

Unhappily, for a long season the vicars of Mow- 
bray had been Httle conscious of their mission. An 
immense population gathered round the sacred citadel 
and gradually spread on all sides of it for miles. But 
the parish church for a long time remained the only 
one at Mowbray when the population of the town 
exceeded that of some European capitals. And even 
in the parish church the frigid spell of Erastian self- 
complacency fatally prevailed. A scanty congregation 
gathered together for form, and as much influenced 
by party as higher sentiments. Going to church was 
held more genteel than going to meeting. The prin- 
cipal tradesmen of the neighbouring great houses 



154 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

deemed it more 'aristocratic;' using a favourite and 
hackneyed epithet, which only expressed their own 
servility. About the time the Church Commission is- 
sued, the congregation of Mowbray was approaching 
zero. There was an idea afloat for a time of making 
it the seat of a new bishopric; the cathedral was 
ready; another instance of the influence of fine art. 
But there was no residence for the projected prelate, 
and a jobbing bishop on the commission was afraid 
that he might have to contribute to building one. So 
the idea died away; and the living having become 
vacant at this moment, instead of a bishop, Mowbray 
received an humble vicar in the shape of Aubrey St. 
Lys, who came among a hundred thousand heathen 
to preach 'the Unknown God.' 



CHAPTER XVIII. 




A Friend of the People. 

ND how do you find the people 
about you, Marney?' said Lord de 
Mowbray, seating himself on a sofa 
by his guest. 
'All very well, my lord,' repHed 
the earl, who ever treated Lord de 
Mowbray with a certain degree of ceremony, espec- 
ially when the descendant of the Crusaders affected 
the familiar. There was something of a Puck-like 
malignity in the temperament of Lord Marney, which 
exhibited itself in a remarkable talent for mortifying 
persons in a small way: by a gesture, an expression, 
a look, cloaked, too, very often with all the character 
of profound deference. The old nobility of Spain 
delighted to address each other only by their names, 
when in the presence of a spic-and-span grandee; 
calling each other, 'Infantado,' 'Sidonia,' *Ossuna,' 
and then turning round with the most distinguished 
consideration, and appealing to the Most Noble Mar- 
quis of Ensenada. 

'They begin to get a little uneasy here,' said Lord 
de Mowbray. 

'We have nothing to complain of,' said Lord 
Marney. 'We continue reducing the rates, and as 

(^55) 



156 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



long as we do that the country must improve. The 
workhouse test tells. We had the other day a case 
of incendiarism, which frightened some people; but I 
inquired into it, and am quite satisfied it originated 
in purely accidental circumstances; at least nothing 
to do with wages. I ought to be a judge, for it was 
on my own property.' 

'And what is the rate of wages in your part of 
the world. Lord Marney.?*' enquired Mr. St. Lys, who 
was standing by. 

*0h! good enough: not like your manufacturing 
districts; but people who work in the open air instead 
of a furnace can't expect, and don't require such. 
They get their eight shillings a week; at least gener- 
ally.' 

'Eight shillings a week!' said Mr. St. Lys. Xan 
a labouring man with a family, perhaps of eight chil- 
dren, live on eight shiUings a week?' 

'Oh! as for that,' said Lord Marney, 'they get 
more than that, because there is beer-money allowed, 
at least to a great extent among us, though I for one 
do not approve of the practice, and that makes nearly 
a shilling per week additional; and then some of them 
have potato grounds, though I am entirely opposed 
to that system.' 

'And yet,' said Mr. St. Lys, 'how they contrive 
to live is to me marvellous.' 

'Oh! as for that,' said Lord Marney, 'I have gen- 
erally found the higher the wages the worse the 
workman. They only spend their money in the beer- 
shops. They are the curse of this country.' 

'But what is a poor man to do,' said Mr. St. Lys, 
'after his day's work, if he return to his own roof 
and find no home; his fire extinguished, his food 



SYBIL 



157 



unprepared; the partner of his life, wearied with la- 
bour in the field or the factory, still absent, or per- 
haps in bed from exhaustion, or because she has 
returned wet to the skin, and has no change of rai- 
ment for her relief? We have removed woman from 
her sphere; we may have reduced wages by her in- 
troduction into the market of labour; but under these 
circumstances what we call domestic life is a condi- 
tion impossible to be reaHsed for the people of this 
country; and we must not therefore be surprised 
that they seek solace or rather refuge in the beer- 
shop.' 

Lord Marney looked up at Mr. St. Lys with a 
stare of high-bred impertinence, and then carelessly 
observed, without directing his words to him, 'They 
may say what they like, but it is all an affair of popu- 
lation.' 

' I would rather believe that it is an affair of re- 
sources,' said Mr. St. Lys; 'not what is the amount 
of our population, but what is the amount of our re- 
sources for their maintenance.' 

Mt comes to the same thing,' said Lord Marney. 
'Nothing can put this country right but emigration 
on a great scale; and as the government do not choose 
to undertake it, I have commenced it for my own 
defence on a small scale. I will take care that the 
population of my parishes is not increased. I build 
no cottages, and I destroy all I can; and I am not 
ashamed or afraid to say so.' 

'You have declared war to the cottage, then,' said 
Mr. St. Lys, smiling. 'It is not at the first sound so 
startling a cry as war to the castle.' 

'But you think it may lead to it?' said Lord de 
Mowbray. 



158 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'I love not to be a prophet of evil,' said Mr. St. 
Lys. 

Lord Marney rose from his seat and addressed Lady 
Firebrace, whose husband in another part of the room 
had caught Mr. Jermyn, and was opening his mind 
on 'the question of the day;' Lady Maud, followed 
by Egremont, approached Mr. St. Lys, and said, 'Mr. 
Egremont has a great feeling for Christian architec- 
ture, Mr. St. Lys, and wishes particularly to visit our 
church, of which we are so proud.' And in a few 
moments they were seated together, and engaged in 
conversation. 

Lord de Mowbray placed himself by the side of 
Lady Marney, who was seated by his countess. 

'Oh! how I envy you at Marney!* he exclaimed. 
'No manufactures, no smoke; living in the midst of 
a beautiful park, and surrounded by a contented peas- 
antry ! ' 

'It is very delightful,' said Lady Marney, 'but 
then we are so dull; we have really no neighbour- 
hood.' 

'I think that such an advantage,' said Lady de 
Mowbray; 'I must say I like my friends from London. 
I never know what to say to the people here. Ex- 
cellent people, the very best people in the world; the 
way they behaved to poor dear Fitz-Warene, when 
they wanted him to stand for the county, I never can 
forget; but then they do not know the people we 
know, or do the things we do; and when you have 
gone through the routine of county questions, and 
exhausted the weather and all the winds, I am posi- 
tively, my dear Lady Marney, aux abois, and then 
they think you are proud, when really one is only 
stupid.* 



SYBIL 



159 



*I am fond of work,' said Lady Marney, 'and I 
talk to them always about it.' 

*Ah! you are fortunate, I never could work; and 
Joan and Maud, they neither of them work. Maud 
did embroider a banner once for her brother; it is in 
the hall. I think it beautiful: but somehow or other 
she never cultivated her talent.* 

*For all that has occurred, or may occur,' said Mr. 
St. Lys to Egremont, ' I blame only the Church. The 
Church deserted the people; and from that moment 
the Church has been in danger, and the people de- 
graded. Formerly religion undertook to satisfy the 
noble wants of human nature, and by its festivals re- 
lieved the painful weariness of toil. The day of rest 
was consecrated, if not always to elevated thoughts, 
at least to sweet and noble sentiments. The Church 
convened to its solemnities, under its splendid and 
almost celestial roofs, amid the finest monuments of 
art that human hands have raised, the whole Chris- 
tian population; for there, in the presence of God, all 
were brethren. It shared equally among all its prayer, 
its incense, and its music, its sacred instructions, and 
the highest enjoyments that the arts could afford.' 

'You believe, then, in the efficacy of forms and 
ceremonies ? ' 

'What you call forms and ceremonies represent 
the divinest instincts of our nature. Push your aver- 
sion to forms and ceremonies to a legitimate conclu- 
sion, and you would prefer kneeling in a barn rather 
than in a cathedral. Your tenets would strike at the 
very existence of all art, which is essentially spiritual.' 

'I am not speaking abstractedly,' said Egremont, 
' but rather with reference to the indirect connection 
of these forms and ceremonies with another church. 



i6o BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



The people of this country associate them with an 
enthralling superstition and a foreign dominion.' 

*With Rome,' said Mr. St. Lys; 'yet forms and 
ceremonies existed before Rome.' 

'But practically,' said Egremont, 'has not their 
revival in our service at the present day a tendency 
to restore the Romish system in this country ? ' 

' It is difficult to ascertain what may be the prac- 
tical effect of certain circumstances among the unin- 
formed,' said Mr. St. Lys. ' The Church of Rome is to be 
respected as the only Hebraeo-Christian Church extant; 
all other churches established by the Hebrew apostles 
have disappeared, but Rome remains; and we must 
never permit the exaggerated position which it as- 
sumed in the middle centuries to make us forget its 
early and apostolical character, when it was fresh from 
Palestine, and as it were fragrant from Paradise. 
The Church of Rome is sustained by apostolical succes- 
sion; but apostolical succession is not an institution 
complete in itself; it is a part of a whole; if it be 
not part of a whole it has no foundation. The apos- 
tles succeeded the prophets. Our Master announced 
himself as the last of the prophets. They in their 
turn were the heirs of the patriarchs: men who were 
in direct communication with the Most High. To 
men not less favoured than the apostles, the revelation 
of the priestly character was made, and those forms 
and ceremonies ordained which the Church of Rome 
has never relinquished. But Rome did not invent 
them: upon their practice, the duty of all congre- 
gations, we cannot consent to her founding a claim 
to supremacy. For would you maintain then that the 
Church did not exist in the time of the prophets.^ 
Was Moses then not a churchman ? And Aaron, 



SYBIL 



i6i 



was he not a high priest ? Ay ! greater than any 
pope or prelate, whether he be at Rome or at Lam- 
beth. 

Mn all these Church discussions, we are apt to 
forget that the second Testament is avowedly only a 
supplement. Jehovah-Jesus came to complete the 
'Maw and the prophets." Christianity is completed 
Judaism, or it is nothing. Christianity is incompre- 
hensible without Judaism, as Judaism is incomplete 
without Christianity. What has Rome to do with its 
completion; what with its commencement? The law 
was not thundered forth from the Capitolian mount; 
the Divine Atonement was not fulfilled upon Mons 
Sacer. No; the order of our priesthood comes di- 
rectly from Jehovah; and the forms and ceremonies of 
His Church are the regulations of His supreme intelli- 
gence. Rome indeed boasts that the authenticity of 
the second Testament depends upon the recognition 
of her infallibility. The authenticity of the second 
Testament depends upon its congruity with the first. 
Did Rome preserve thsLt? I recognise in the Church 
an institution thoroughly, sincerely catholic: adapted 
to all chmes, and to all ages. I do not bow to the 
necessity of a visible head in a defined locality; but 
were I to seek for such, it would not be at Rome. 
I cannot discover in its history, however memorable, 
any testimony of a mission so sublime. When 
Omnipotence deigned to be incarnate, the Ineffable 
Word did not select a Roman frame. The prophets 
were not Romans; the apostles were not Romans; 
she who was blessed above all women, I never heard 
she was a Roman maiden. No, I should look to a 
land more distant than Italy, to a city more sacred 
even than Rome.' 

14 B. D.— II 



CHAPTER XIX. 




A Herald of the Dawn. 

T WAS a cloudy, glimmering dawn. 
A cold withering east wind blew 
through the silent streets of Mow- 
bray. The sounds of the night 
had died away, the voices of the 
day had not commenced. There 
reigned a stillness complete and absorbing. 

Suddenly there is a voice, there is a movement. 
The first footstep of the new week of toil is heard. 
A man muffled up in a thick coat, and bearing in his 
hand what would seem at the first glance to be a 
shepherd's crook, only its handle is much longer, ap- 
pears upon the pavement. He touches a number of 
windows with great quickness as he moves rapidly along. 
A rattling noise sounds upon each pane. The use of the 
long handle of his instrument becomes apparent as he 
proceeds, enabling him as it does to reach the upper 
windows of the dwellings whose inmates he has 
to rouse. Those inmates are the factory girls, who 
subscribe in districts to engage these heralds of the 
dawn; and by a strict observance of whose citation 
they can alone escape the dreaded fine that awaits 
those who have not arrived at the door of the factory 
before the bell ceases to sound. 
(162) 



SYBIL 



The sentry in question, quitting the streets, and 
stooping through one of the small archways that we 
have before noticed, entered a court. Here lodged a 
multitude of his employers; and the long crook, as it 
were by some sleight of hand, seemed sounding on 
both sides, and at many windows at the same mo- 
ment. Arrived at the end of the court, he was about 
to touch the window of the upper story of the last 
tenement, when that window opened, and a man, 
pale and careworn, and, in a melancholy voice, spoke 
to him. 

'Simmons,' said the man, 'you need not rouse 
this story any more; my daughter has left us.' 
'Has she left Webster's?' 

'No; but she has left us. She has long murmured 
at her hard lot; working like a slave, and not for 
herself. And she has gone, as they all go, to keep 
house for herself.' 

'That's a bad business,' said the watchman, in a 
tone not devoid of sympathy. ^ 

' Almost as bad as for parents to live on their chil- 
dren's wages,' replied the man mournfully. 

'And how is your good woman?' 

' As poorly as needs be. Harriet has never been 
home since Friday night. She owes you nothing?' 

'Not a halfpenny. She was as regular as a little 
bee, and always paid every Monday morning. I am 
sorry she has left you, neighbour.' 

'The Lord's will be done. It's hard times for such 
as us,' said the man; and, leaving the window open, 
he retired into his room. 

It was a single chamber of which he was the 
tenant. In the centre, placed so as to gain the best 
light which the gloomy situation could afford, was a 



i64 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



loom. In two corners of the room were mattresses 
placed on the floor, a check curtain, hung upon a 
string, if necessary, concealing them. On one was 
his sick wife; on the other, three young children: 
two girls, the eldest about eight years of age; be- 
tween them their baby brother. An iron kettle was 
by the hearth, and on the mantelpiece some candles, 
a few lucifer matches, two tin mugs, a paper of salt, 
and an iron spoon. In a farther part, close to the 
wall, was a heavy table or dresser; this was a fixture, 
as well as the form which was fastened by it. 

The man seated himself at his loom; he com- 
menced his daily task. 

. 'Twelve hours of daily labour, at the rate of one 
penny each hour; and even this labour is mortgaged! 
How is this to end? Is it rather not ended.?' And 
he looked around him at his chamber without re- 
sources: no food, no fuel, no furniture, and four 
human beings dependent on him, and lying in their 
wretched beds, because they had no clothes. 'I can- 
not sell my loom,' he continued, *at the price of old 
firewood, and it cost me gold. It is not vice that 
has brought me to this, nor indolence, nor impru- 
dence. I was born to labour, and 1 was ready to 
labour. I loved my loom, and my loom loved me. 
It gave me a cottage in my native village, surrounded 
by a garden, of whose claims on my solicitude it 
was not jealous. There was time for both. It gave 
me for a wife the maiden that I had ever loved; and 
it gathered my children round my hearth with plen- 
teousness and peace. I was content: I sought no 
other lot. It is not adversity that makes me look 
back upon the past with tenderness. 

'Then why am I here? Why am I, and six 



SYBIL 



165 



hundred thousand subjects of the Queen, honest, 
loyal, and industrious, why are we, after manfully 
struggling for years, and each year sinking lower in 
the scale, why are we driven from our innocent and 
happy homes, our country cottages that we loved, 
first to bide in close towns without comforts, and 
gradually to crouch into cellars, or find a squalid lair 
like this, without even the common necessaries of 
existence; first the ordinary conveniences of Hfe, then 
raiment, and at length food, vanishing from us? 

' It is that the capitalist has found a slave that has 
supplanted the labour and ingenuity of man. Once 
he was an artisan: at the best, he now only watches 
machines; and even that occupation slips from his 
grasp to the woman and the child. The capitalist 
flourishes, he amasses immense wealth; w^e sink, 
lower and lower; lower than the beasts of burthen, 
for they are fed better than we are, cared for more. 
And it is just, for according to the present system 
they are more precious. And yet they tell us that 
the interests of capital and of labour are identical. 

'If a society that has been created by labour sud- 
denly becomes independent of it, that society is bound 
to maintain the race whose only property is labour, 
out of the proceeds of that other property, which has 
not ceased to be productive. 

' When the class of the nobility were supplanted 
in France, they did not amount in number to one-third 
of us hand-loom weavers; yet all Europe went to 
war to avenge their wrongs, every state subscribed 
to maintain them in their adversity, and when they 
were restored to their own country their own land 
suppHed them with an immense indemnity. Who 
cares for us ? Yet we have lost our estates. Who 



i66 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



raises a voice for us ? Yet we are at least as innocent 
as the nobility of France. We sink among no sighs 
except our own. And if they give us sympathy, 
what then? Sympathy is the solace of the poor; but 
for the rich there is compensation.' 

Ms that Harriet.^' said his wife, moving in her bed. 

The hand-loom weaver was recalled from his 
reverie to the urgent misery that surrounded him. 

'No!' he replied in a quick hoarse voice, 'it is 
not Harriet.' 

*Why does not Harriet come?' 

'She will come no more!' replied the weaver; 'I 
told you so last night: she can bear this place no 
longer; and I am not surprised.' 

'How are we to get food, then?' rejoined his 
wife; 'you ought not to have let her leave us. You 
do nothing, Warner. You get no wages yourself; 
and you have let the girl escape.' 

'I will escape myself if you say that again,' said 
the weaver: 'I have been up these three hours finish- 
ing this piece, which ought to have been taken home 
on Saturday night.' 

' But you have been paid for it beforehand. You 
get nothing for your work. A penny an hour! What 
sort of work is it that brings a penny an hour?' 

'Work that you have often admired, Mary, and 
has before this gained a prize. But if you don't like 
the work,' said the man, quitting his loom, 'let it 
alone. There was enough yet owing on this piece 
to have allowed us to break our fast. However, no 
matter; we must starve sooner or later. Let us be- 
gin at once.' 

'No, no, Philip! work. Let us break our fast, 
come what may.' 



SYBIL 



167 



'Twit me no more, then,' said the weaver, resum- 
ing his seat, 'or I throw the shuttle for the last time.' 

'I will not taunt you,' said his wife in a kinder 
tone. 'I was wrong; I am sorry; but I am very ill. 
It is not for myself I speak; I want not to eat; I have 
no appetite; my lips are so very parched. But the 
children, the children went supperless to bed, and 
they will wake soon.' 

'Mother, we ayn't asleep,' said the elder girl. 

'No, we ayn't asleep, mother,' said her sister; 
'we heard all that you said to father.' 

'And baby?' 

' He sleeps still.' 

'I shiver very much!' said the mother. 'It's a 
cold day. Pray shut the window, Warner. I see the 
drops upon the pane; it is raining. I wonder if the 
persons below would lend us one block of coal.' 

'We have borrowed too often,' said Warner. 

'I wish there were no such thing as coal in the 
land,' said his wife, 'and then the engines would not be 
able to work; and we should have our rights again.' 

'Amen!' said Warner. 

'Don't you think, Warner,' said his wife, 'that 
you could sell that piece to some other person, and 
owe Barber for the money he advanced?' 

'No!' said her husband, fiercely. * I'll go straight.' 

'And let your children starve,' said his wife, 
'when you could get five or six shillings at once. 
But so it always was with you. Why did not you 
go to the machines years ago like other men, and so 
get used to them ? ' 

'I should have been supplanted by this time,' said 
Warner, 'by a girl or a woman! It would have 
been just as bad! ' 



i68 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Why, there was your friend, Walter Gerard; he 
was the same as you, and yet now he gets two 
pound a week; at least I have often heard you say 
so.' 

'Walter Gerard is a man of great parts,' said 
Warner, 'and might have been a master himself by 
this time had he cared.' 

'And why did he not?' 

'He had no wife and children,' said Warner; 'he 
was not so blessed.' 

The baby woke and began to cry. 

'Ah! my child!' exclaimed the mother. 'That 
wicked Harriet! Here, Amelia, 1 have a morsel of 
crust here. I saved it yesterday for baby; moisten it 
in water, and tie it up in this piece of calico: he will 
suck it; it will keep him quiet; I can bear anything 
but his cry.' 

'I shall have finished my job by noon,' said War- 
ner; 'and then, please God, we shall break our fast.' 

'It is yet two hours to noon,' said his wife. 'And 
Barber always keeps you so long! 1 cannot bear that 
Barber: I dare say he will not advance you money 
again, as you did not bring the job home on Satur- 
day night. If I were you, Philip, I would go and sell 
the piece unfinished at once to one of the cheap 
shops.' 

'I have gone straight all my life,' said Warner. 

'And much good it has done you,' said his wife. 

'My poor Amelia! How she shivers! I think the 
sun never touches this house. It is, indeed, a most 
wretched place.' 

'It will not annoy you long, Mary,' said her hus- 
band: 'I can pay no more rent; and I only wonder 
they have not been here already to take the week.' 



SYBIL 



169 



*And where are we to go?' said the wife. 

'To a place which certainly the sun never touches/ 
said her husband, with a kind of malice in his misery 
— 'to a cellar.' 

' Oh ! why was I ever born } ' exclaimed his wife. 
'And yet I was so happy once! And it is not our 
fault. I cannot make it out, Warner, why you should 
not get two pounds a week like Walter Gerard.' 

* Bah ! ' said the husband. 

'You said he had no family,' continued his wife. 
'I thought he had a daughter.' 

'But she is no burthen to him. The sister of 
Mr. Trafford is the Superior of the convent here, and 
she took Sybil when her mother died, and brought 
her up.' 

'Oh! then she is a nun?' 

'Not yet; but 1 dare say it will end in it.' 

'Well, 1 think 1 would even sooner starve,' said 
his wife, 'than my children should be nuns.' 

At this moment there was a knocking at the 
door. Warner descended from his loom, and opened 
it. 

'Lives Philip Warner here?' enquired a clear voice 
of peculiar sweetness. 
'My name is Warner.' 

'I come from Walter Gerard,' continued the voice. 
'Your letter reached him only last night. The girl at 
whose house your daughter left it has quitted this 
week past Mr. Trafford's factory.' 

' Pray enter.' 

And there entered Sybil. 



CHAPTER XX. 




An Angel of Mercy. 
I 

OUR wife is ill.?' said Sybil. 

'Very!' replied Warners wife. 
'Our daughter has behaved infa- 
mously to us. She has quitted us 
without saying by your leave or 
with your leave. And her wages 
were almost the only thing left to us; for Philip is 
not like Walter Gerard, you see: he cannot earn two 
pounds a week, though why he cannot 1 never could 
understand.' 

'Hush, hush, wife!' said Warner. '1 speak, I ap- 
prehend, to Gerard's daughter ? ' 
'Just so.' 

'Ah! this is good and kind; this is like old times, 
for Walter Gerard was my friend, when 1 was not 
exactly as 1 am nov/.' 

'He tells me so: he sent a messenger to me last 
night to visit you this morning. Your letter reached 
him only yesterday.' 

'Harriet was to give it to Caroline,' said the wife. 
'That's the girl who has done all the mischief and 
inveigled her away. And she has left Trafford's 
works, has she? Then I will be bound she and Har- 
riet are keeping house together.' 
(170) 



SYBIL 



171 



*You suffer?' said Sybil, moving to the bedside 
of the woman. 'Give me your hand/ she added in 
a soft sweet tone. * 'Tis hot.' 

' I feel very cold,' said the woman. * Warner would 
have the window open, till the rain came in.' 

*And you, I fear, are wet,' said Warner, address- 
ing Sybil, and interrupting his wife. 

'Very slightly. And you have no fire. Ah! I 
have brought some things for you, but not fuel.' 

Mf he would only ask the person down stairs,' 
said his wife, 'for a block of coal; I tell him, neigh- 
bours could hardly refuse; but he never will do any- 
thing; he says he has asked too often.' 

'I will ask,' said Sybil. 'But first, I have a 
companion without,' she added, 'who bears a basket 
for you. Come in, Harold.' 

The baby began to cry the moment a large dog 
entered the room; a young bloodhound of the ancient 
breed, such as are now found but in a few old halls 
and granges in the north of England. Sybil untied 
the basket, and gave a piece of sugar to the scream- 
ing infant. Her glance was sweeter even than her 
remedy; the infant stared at her with his large 
blue eyes, for an instant astonished, and then he 
smiled. 

'Oh! beautiful child!' exclaimed Sybil; and she 
took the babe up from the mattress and embraced it. 

'You are an angel from heaven,' exclaimed the 
mother, ' and you may well say beautiful. And only 
to think of that infamous girl, Harriet, to desert us 
all in this way!' 

Sybil drew forth the contents of the convent basket, 
and called Warner's attention to them. 'Now,' she 
said, ' arrange all this as I tell you, and 1 will go down 



172 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



stairs and speak to them below as you wish. Harold, 
rest there;' and the dog laid himself down in the re- 
motest corner. 

*And is that Gerard's daughter?' said the weaver's 
wife. 

'Only think what it is to gain two pounds a week, 
and bring up your daughters in that way, instead of 
such shameless hussies as our Harriet! But with such 
wages one can do anything. What have you there, 
Warner? Is that tea? Oh! I should like some tea. 
I do think tea would do me some good. I have quite 
a longing for it. Run down, Warner, and ask them 
to let us have a kettle of hot water. It is better than 
all the fire in the world. Amelia, my dear, do you 
see what they have sent us? Plenty to eat. Tell 
Maria all about it. You are good girls; you will 
never be like that infamous Harriet. When you earn 
wages you will give them to your poor mother and 
baby, won't you?' 

'Yes, mother,' said Amelia. 

'And father, too,' said Maria. 

'And father, too,' said the wife. 'He has been a 
very good father to you all; and I never can under- 
stand why one who works so hard should earn so little; 
but I beheve it is the fault of those machines. The 
police ought to put them down, and then everybody 
v/ould be comfortable.' 

Sybil and Warner re-entered; the fire was lit, the 
tea made, the meal partaken of. An air of comfort, 
even of enjoyment, was diffused over this chamber, 
but a few minutes back so desolate and unhappy. 

'Well,' said the wife, raising herself a little up in 
her bed, ' I feel as if that dish of tea had saved my 
life. Amelia, have you had any tea ? And Maria ? 



SYBIL 



173 



You see what it is to be good, girls; the Lord will 
never desert you. The day is fast coming when that 
Harriet will know what the want of a dish of tea is, 
with all her fine wages. And I am sure,' she added, 
addressing Sybil, 'what we all owe to you is not to 
be told. Your father well deserves his good fortune, 
with such a daughter.' 

' My father's fortunes are not much better than his 
neighbours',' said Sybil, 'but his wants are few; and 
who should sympathise with the poor but the poor? 
Alas! none else can. Besides, it is the Superior of 
our convent that has sent you this meal. What my 
father can do for you I have told your husband. 'Tis 
little; but with the favour of Heaven it may avail. 
When the people support the people, the Divine bless- 
ing will not be wanting.' 

' 1 am sure the Divine blessing will never be want- 
ing to you,' said Warner, in a voice of emotion. 

There was silence; the querulous spirit of the wife 
was subdued by the tone of Sybil; she revolved in her 
mind the present and the past; the children pursued 
their ungrudged and unusual meal; the daughter of 
Gerard, that she might not interfere with their occu- 
pation, walked to the window and surveyed the chink 
of troubled sky which was visible in the court. The 
wind blew in gusts; the rain beat against the glass. 
Soon after this, there was another knock at the door. 
Harold started from his repose, and growled. Warner 
rose, and saying, 'They have come for the rent. 
Thank God, I am ready,' advanced and opened the 
door. Two men offered with courtesy to enter. 

'We are strangers,* said he who took the lead, 
'but would not be such. I speak to Warner?' 

'My name.' 



174 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'And I am your spiritual pastor, if to be the vicar 
of Mowbray entitles me to that description.' 
'Mr. St. Lys.' 

'The same. One of the most valued of my flock, 
and the most influential person in this district, has 
been speaking much of you to me this morning. 
You are working for him. He did not hear of you 
on Saturday night; he feared you were ill. Mr. Barber 
spoke to me of your distress, as well as of your 
good character. I came to express to you my re- 
spect and my sympathy, and to offer you my assist- 
ance.' 

'You are most good, sir, and Mr. Barber too; and 
indeed, an hour ago, we were in as great straits — ' 

'And are now, sir,' exclaimed his wife, interrupt- 
ing him. ' I have been in this bed a week, and may 
never rise from it again; the children have no clothes; 
they are pawned; everything is pawned; this morning 
we had neither fuel nor food. And we thought you 
had come for the rent, which we cannot pay. If it 
had not been for a dish of tea which was charitably 
given me this morning by a person almost as poor 
as ourselves, — that is to say, they live by labour, 
though their wages are much higher, as high as two 
pounds a week, though how that can be I never 
shall understand, when my husband is working 
twelve hours a day, and gaining only a penny an 
hour — if it had not been for this I should have been 
a corpse; and yet he says we were in straits, merely 
because Walter Gerard's daughter, who I willingly 
grant is an angel from heaven for all the good she 
has done us, has stepped in to our aid. But the 
poor supporting the poor, as she well says, what 
good can come from that?' 



SYBIL 



175 



During this ebullition, Mr. St. Lys had surveyed 
the apartment and recognised Sybil. 

'Sister,' he said, when the wife of Warner had 
ceased, 'this is not the first time we have met under 
the roof of sorrow.' 

Sybil bent in silence, and moved as if she were 
about to retire; the wind and rain came dashing 
against the window. The companion of Mr. St. Lys, 
who was clad in a rough great-coat, and was shak- 
ing the wet off an oilskin hat known by the name 
of a 'south-wester,' advanced and said to her, 'It is 
but a squall, but a severe one; I would recommend 
you to stay for a few minutes.' 

She received this remark with courtesy, but did 
not reply. 

'I think,' continued the companion of Mr. St. Lys, 
'that this is not the first time also that we have 
met.?' 

'I cannot recall our meeting before,' said Sybil. 

'And yet it was not many days past; though 
the sky was so different, that it would almost 
make one believe it was in another land and another 
cHme.' 

Sybil looked at him as if for explanation. 
'It was at Marney Abbey,' said the companion of 
Mr. St. Lys. 

'I was there; and 1 remember when about to re- 
join my companions, they were not alone.' 

'And you disappeared, very suddenly I thought; 
for I left the ruins almost at the same moment as 
your friends, yet I never saw any of you again.' 

'We took our course; a very rugged one; you 
perhaps pursued a more even way.' 

'Was it your first visit to Marney?' 



176 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



*My first and my last. There was no place I 
more desired to see; no place of which the vision 
made me so sad.' 

'The glory has departed,' said Egremont, mourn- 
fully. 

'It is not that/ said Sybil; *1 was prepared for 
decay, but not for such absolute desecration. The 
Abbey seems a quarry for materials to repair farm- 
houses; and the nave a cattle gate. What people they 
must be — that family of sacrilege who hold these 
lands!' 

'Hem!' said Egremont. 'They certainly do not 
appear to have much feeling for ecclesiastical art.' 

'And for little else, as we were told,' said Sybil. 
'There was a fire at the Abbey farm the day we 
were there, and, from all that reached us, it would 
appear the people were as little tended as the Abbey 
walls.' 

'They have some difficulty perhaps in employing 
their population in those parts.' 
'You know the country?' 

'Not at all; 1 was travelling in the neighbourhood, 
and made a diversion for the sake of seeing an Abbey 
of which 1 had heard so much.' 

'Yes; it was the greatest of the Northern Houses. 
But they told me the people were most wretched 
round the Abbey; nor do 1 think there is any other 
cause for their misery, than the hard hearts of the 
family that have got the lands.' 

'You feel deeply for the people!' said Egremont, 
looking at her earnestly. 

Sybil returned him a glance expressive of some 
astonishment, and then said, ' And do not you ? Your 
presence here assures me of it.' 



SYBIL 



177 



' I humbly follow one who would comfort the un- 
happy.' 

'The charity of Mr. St. Lys is known to all.' 

*And you — you, too, are a ministering angel.' 

'There is no merit in my conduct, for there is no 
sacrifice. When I remember what this English people 
once was; the truest, the freest, and the bravest, the 
best-natured and the best-looking, the happiest and 
most religious race upon the surface of this globe; 
and think of them now, with all their crimes and all 
their slavish sufferings, their soured spirits and their 
stunted forms; their lives without enjoyment, and 
their deaths without hope, I may well feel for them, 
even if I were not the daughter of their blood.' 

And that blood mantled to her cheek as she ceased 
to speak, and her dark eye gleamed with emotion, 
and an expression of pride and courage hovered on 
her brow. Egremont caught her glance and withdrew 
his own; his heart was troubled. 

St. Lys, who had been in conference with the 
weaver, left him and went to the bedside of his wife. 
Warner advanced to Sybil, and expressed his feelings 
for her father, his sense of her goodness. She, ob- 
serving that the squall seemed to have ceased, bade 
him farewell, and calling Harold, quitted the chamber. 

14 B. D.— 12 



CHAPTER XXI. 




A Noble Duke. 

HERE have you been all the morning, 
Charles ? ' said Lord Marney, coming 
into his brother's dressing-room a 
few minutes before dinner: * Ara- 
bella had made the nicest little 
riding party for you and Lady 
Joan, and you were to be found nowhere. If you go 
on in this way, there is no use in having affectionate 
relations, or anything else.' 

' I have been walking about ?vlowbray. One should 
see a factory once in one's life.' 

'I don't see the necessity,' said Lord Marney; *I 
never saw one, and never intend. Though, to be 
sure, when I hear the rents that Mowbray gets for 
his land in this neighbourhood, 1 must say I wish the 
worsted works had answered at Marney. And if it 
had not been for our poor dear father, they would.' 

* Our family have always been against manufacto- 
ries, railroads — everything,' said Egremont. 

'Railroads are very good things, with high com- 
pensation,' said Lord Marney; 'and manufactories not 
so bad, with high rents; but, after all, these are enter- 
prises for the canaille, and 1 hate them in my heart.' 
'But they employ the people, George.' 
(178) 



SYBIL 



179 



'The people do not want employment; it is the 
greatest mistake in the world; all this employment is 
a stimulus to population. Never mind that; what 1 
came in for is, to tell you that both Arabella and my- 
self think you talk too much to Lady Maud/ 

M like her the best.' 

'What has that to do with it, my dear fellow? 
Business is business. Old Mowbray will make an 
elder son out of his elder daughter. The affair is 
settled; I know it from the best authority. Talking 
to Lady Maud is insanity. It is all the same for her 
as if Fitz-Warene had never died. And then that 
great event, which ought to be the foundation of your 
fortune, would be perfectly thrown away. Lady Maud, 
at the best, is nothing more than twenty thousand 
pounds and a fat living. Besides, she is engaged to 
that parson fellow, St. Lys.' 

'St. Lys told me to-day that nothing would ever 
induce him to marry. He would practise celibacy, 
though he would not enjoin it.' 

'Enjoin fiddle-stick! How came you to be talking 
to such a sanctified impostor; and, I believe, with all 
his fine phrases, a complete radical ? I tell you what, 
Charles, you must really make way with Lady Joan. 
The grandfather has come to-day, the old duke. 
Quite a family party. It looks so well. Never was 
such a golden opportunity. And you must be sharp 
too. That little Jermyn, with his brown eyes and 
his white hands, has not come down here, in the 
month of August, with no sport of any kind, for 
nothing.' 

'I shall set Lady Firebrace at him.' 
'She is quite your friend, and a very sensible 
woman too, Charles, and an ally not to be despised. 



i8o BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Lady Joan has a high opinion of her. There's the 
bell. Well, I shall tell Arabella that you mean to put 
up the steam, and Lady Firebrace shall keep Jermyn 
off. And perhaps it is as well you did not seem too 
eager at first. Mowbray Castle, my dear fellow, in 
spite of its manufactories, is not to be despised. And 
with a little firmness, you could keep the people out 
of your park. Mowbray could do it, only he has no 
pluck. He is afraid people would say he was the son 
of a footman.' 

The duke, who was the father of the Countess de 
Mowbray, was also lord-lieutenant of the county. 
Although advanced in years, he was still extremely 
handsome, with the most winning manners; full of 
amenity and grace. He had been a rou^ in his youth, 
but seemed now the perfect representative of a be- 
nignant and virtuous old age. He was universally 
popular; admired by young men, adored by young 
ladies. Lord de Mowbray paid him the most distin- 
guished consideration. It was genuine. However 
maliciously the origin of his own father might be rep- 
resented, nobody could deprive him of that great fact, 
his father-in-law; a duke, a duke of a great house 
who had intermarried for generations with great 
houses, one of the old nobility, and something even 
loftier. 

The county of which his Grace was lord-Iieutenant 
was proud of its nobility; and certainly with Marney 
Abbey at one end, and Mowbray Castle at the other, 
it had just cause; but both these illustrious houses 
yielded in importance, though not in possessions, to 
the great peer who was the governor of the province. 

A French actress, clever as French actresses always 
are, had persuaded, once upon a time, an easy-tern- 



SYBIL 



i8i 



pered monarch of this realm, that the paternity of her 
coming babe was a distinction of which his Majesty 
might be proud. His Majesty did not much believe 
her; but he was a sensible man, and never disputed 
a point with a woman; so when the babe was born, 
and it proved a boy, he christened him with his name; 
and elevated him to the peerage in his cradle by the 
title of Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine and Marquis of Gascony. 

An estate the royal father could not endow him 
with, for he had spent all his money, mortgaged all 
his resources, and was obliged to run in debt himself 
for the jewels of the rest of his mistresses; but he 
did his best for the young peer, as became an affec- 
tionate father or a fond lover. His Majesty made 
him, when he arrived at man's estate, the hereditary 
keeper of a palace which he possessed in the north of 
England; and this secured his Grace a castle and a 
park. He could wave his flag and kill his deer; and 
if he had only possessed an estate, he would have 
been as well off as if he had helped to conquer the 
realm with King William, or plundered the Church 
for King Harry. A revenue must, however, be found 
for the Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine, and it was furnished 
without the interference of Parliament, but with a 
financial dexterity worthy of that assembly, to whom 
and not to our sovereigns we are obliged for the pub- 
lic debt. The king granted the duke and his heirs 
for ever a pension on the post-office, a light tax 
upon coals shipped to London, and a tithe of all the 
shrimps caught on the southern coast. This last 
source of revenue became in time, with the develop- 
ment of watering-places, extremely prolific. And so, 
what with the foreign courts and colonies for the 
younger sons, it was thus contrived very respectably 



i82 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



to maintain the hereditary dignity of this great peer. 

The present Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine had supported 
the Reform Bill, but had been shocked by the ap- 
propriation clause; very much admired Lord Stanley, 
and was apt to observe that, if that nobleman had 
been the leader of the Conservative party, he hardly 
knew what he might not have done himself. But 
the duke was an old Whig, had lived with old Whigs 
all his life, feared revolution, but still more the neces- 
sity of taking his name out of Brooks's, where he had 
looked in every day or night since he came of age. 
So, not approving of what was going on, yet not 
caring to desert his friends, he withdrew, as the 
phrase runs, from public life; that is to say, was 
rarely in his seat; did not continue to Lord Melbourne 
the proxy that had been entrusted to Lord Grey; and 
made Tory magistrates in his county, though a Whig 
lord-lieutenant. 

When forces were numbered, and speculations on 
the future indulged in by the Tadpoles and Tapers, 
the name of the Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine was mentioned 
with a knowing look, and in a mysterious tone. Noth- 
ing more was necessary between Tadpole and Taper; 
but, if some hack m statu pupillari happened to be 
present at the conference, and the gentle novice, 
greedy for party tattle, and full of admiring reverence 
for the two great hierophants of petty mysteries be- 
fore him, ventured to intimate his anxiety for initia- 
tion, the secret was entrusted to him, 'that all was 
right there; that his Grace only watched his oppor- 
tunity; that he was heartily sick of the present men; 
indeed, would have gone over with Lord Stanley in 
1835, had he not had a fit of the gout, which prevented 
him from coming up from the north; and though, to 



SYBIL 



be sure, his son and brother did vote against the 
Speaker, still that was a mistake; if a letter had been 
sent, which was not written, they would have voted 
the other way, and perhaps Sir Robert might have 
been in at the present moment.* 

The Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine was the great staple 
of Lady Firebrace's correspondence with Mr. Tadpole. 
' Woman's mission ' took the shape, to her intelligence, 
of getting over his Grace to the Conservatives. She 
was much assisted in these endeavours by the infor- 
mation which she so dexterously acquired from the 
innocent and incautious Lord Masque. 

Egremont was seated at dinner to-day by the side 
of Lady Joan. Unconsciously to himself, this had 
been arranged by Lady Marney. The action of woman 
on our destiny is unceasing. Egremont was scarcely 
in a happy mood for conversation. He was pensive, 
inclined to be absent; his thoughts, indeed, were of 
other things and persons than those around him. 
Lady Joan, however, only required a listener; she did 
not make inquiries Hke Lady Maud, or impart her own 
impressions by suggesting them as your own. Lady 
Joan gave Egremont an account of the Aztec cities, 
of which she had been reading that morning, and of 
the several historical theories which their discovery 
had suggested; then she imparted her own, which 
differed from all, but which seemed clearly the right 
one. Mexico led to Egypt. Lady Joan was as familiar 
with the Pharaohs as with the Caciques of the new 
world. The phonetic system was despatched by the 
way. Then came Champollion; then Paris; then all its 
celebrities, literary and especially scientific; then came 
the letter from Arago received that morning; and the 
letter from Dr. Buckland expected to-morrow. She 



i84 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



was delighted that one had written; wondered why 
the other had not. Finally, before the ladies had re- 
tired, she had invited Egremont to join Lady Marney 
, in a visit to her observatory, where they were to be- 
hold a comet which she had been the first to detect. 

Lady Firebrace, next to the duke, indulged in 
mysterious fiddle-faddle as to the state of parties. 
She, too, had her correspondents, and her letters 
received or awaited. Tadpole said this; Lord Masque, 
on the contrary, said that: the truth lay, perhaps, 
between them; some result, developed by the clear 
inteUigence of Lady Firebrace, acting on the data 
with which they supplied her. The duke listened 
with calm excitement to the transcendental revelations 
of his Egeria. Nothing appeared to be concealed from 
her; the inmost mind of the sovereign; there was not 
a royal prejudice that was not mapped in her secret 
inventory; the cabinets of the Whigs, and the clubs 
of the Tories, she had the 'open sesame' to all of 
them. Sir Somebody did not want office, though he 
pretended to; and Lord Nobody did want office, though 
he pretended he did not. One great man thought the 
pear was not ripe; another that it was quite rotten; 
but then the first was coming on the stage, and the 
other was going off. In estimating the accuracy of 
a pohtical opinion, one should take into consideration 
the standing of the opinionist. 

At the right moment, and when she was sure she 
was not overheard. Lady Firebrace played her trump 
card, the pack having been previously cut by Mr. 
Tadpole. 

'And whom do you think Sir Robert would send 
to Ireland?' and she looked up in the face of the 
Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine. 



SYBIL 



*I suppose the person he sent before,' said his 
Grace. 

Lady Firebrace shook her head. 

'Lord Haddington will not go to Ireland again,' 
replied her ladyship, mysteriously; 'mark me. And 
Lord de Grey does not like to go; and if he did, 
there are objections. And the Duke of Northumber- 
land, he will not go. And who else is there? We 
must have a nobleman of the highest rank for Ireland; 
one who has not mixed himself up with Irish ques- 
tions; who has always been in old days for emanci- 
pation; a Conservative, not an Orangeman. You 
understand. That is the person Sir Robert will send, 
and whom Sir Robert wants.' 

'He will have some difficulty in finding such a 
person,' said the duke. 'If, indeed, the blundering 
affair of 1834 had not occurred, and things had taken 
their legitimate course, and we had seen a man like 
Lord Stanley, for instance, at the head of affairs, or 
leading a great party, why then indeed your friends 
the Conservatives, for every sensible man must be a 
Conservative, in the right sense of the word, would 
, have stood in a very different position; but now — / 
and his Grace shook his head. 

'Sir Robert will never consent to form a govern- 
ment again without Lord Stanley,' said Lady Fire- 
brace. 

'Perhaps not,' said the duke. 

'Do you know whose name I have heard men- 
tioned in a certain quarter as the person Sir Robert 
would wish to see in Ireland?' continued Lady Fire- 
brace. 

His Grace lent his ear. 

'The Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine,' said Lady Firebrace. 



i86 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Quite impossible/ said the duke. *I am no party 
man; if I be anything, I am a supporter of the gov- 
ernment. True it is, I do not like the way they are 
going on, and I disapprove of all their measures; but 
we must stand by our friends, Lady Firebrace. To 
be sure, if the country were in danger, and the Queen 
personally appealed to one, and the Conservative party 
were really a Conservative party, and not an old crazy 
faction, vamped up, and whitewashed into decency, 
one might pause and consider. But I am free to con- 
fess I must see things in a very different condition 
from what they are at present, before I could be called 
upon to take that step. I must see men like Lord 
Stanley — * 

' I know what you are going to say, my dear 
Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine. I tell you again. Lord Stan- 
ley is with us heart and soul; and before long I feel 
persuaded I shall see your Grace in the Castle of Dub- 
lin.' 

'I am too old; at least, I am afraid so,' said the 
Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine, with a relenting smile. 



CHAPTER XXII. 




A Fishing Trip and What 
Came of It. 

BOUT three miles before it reaches 
the town, the river Mowe undulates 
through a plain. The scene, though 
not very picturesque, has a glad 
and sparkling character. A stone 
bridge unites the opposite banks 
by three arches of good proportion; the land about 
consists of meads of a vivid colour, or vegetable 
gardens to supply the neighbouring population, and 
whose various hues give life and lightness to the 
level ground. The immediate boundaries of the plain 
on either side are chiefly woods; above the crest of 
which in one direction expands the brown bosom of 
a moor. The cottages which are sprinkled about this 
scene, being built of stone, and on an ample scale, 
contribute to the idea of comfort and plenty which, 
with a serene sky and on a soft summer day, the 
traveller willingly associates with it. 

Such were the sky and season in which Egremont 
emerged on this scene, a few days after the incidents 
recorded in our last chapter. He had been fishing in 
the park of Mowbray, and had followed the rivulet 
through many windings until, quitting the enclosed 

(187) 



1 88 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



domain, it had forced its way through some craggy 
underwood at the bottom of the hilly moors we have 
noticed, and, finally entering the plain, lost itself in 
the waters of the greater stream. 

Good sport had not awaited Egremont. Truth to 
say, his rod had played in a careless hand. He had 
taken it, though an adept in the craft when in the 
mood, rather as an excuse to be alone than a means 
to be amused. There are seasons in life when soli- 
tude is a necessity; and such a one had now de- 
scended on the spirit of the brother of Lord Marney. 

The form of Sybil Gerard was stamped upon his 
brain. It blended with all his thoughts; it haunted 
every object. Who was this girl, unlike all women 
whom he had yet encountered, who spoke with such 
sweet seriousness of things of such vast import, but 
which had never crossed his mind, and with a kind 
of mournful majesty bewailed the degradation of her 
race? The daughter of the lowly, yet proud of her 
birth. Not a noble lady in the land who could boast 
a mien more complete, and none of them thus gifted, 
who possessed withal the fascinating simplicity that 
pervaded every gesture and accent of the daughter of 
Gerard. 

Yes! the daughter of Gerard; the daughter of a 
workman at a factory. It had not been difficult, after 
the departure of Sybil, to extract this information 
from the garrulous wife of the weaver. And that 
father,— he was not unknown to Egremont. His 
proud form and generous countenance were still fresh 
in the mind's eye of our friend. Not less so his 
thoughtful speech; full of knowledge and meditation 
and earnest feeling! How much that he had spoken 
still echoed in the heart and rung in the brooding 



SYBIL 



189 



ear of Egremont. And his friend, too, that pale man 
with those glittering eyes, who, without affectation, 
without pedantry, with artlessness on the' contrary, 
and a degree of earnest singleness, had glanced like 
a master of philosophy at the loftiest principles of 
political science, was he too a workman? And are 
these then the People ? If so, thought Egremont 
would that I lived more among them! Compared 
with their converse, the tattle of our saloons has in 
it something humiliating. It is not merely that it is 
deficient in warmth, and depth, and breadth; that it 
is always discussing persons instead of principles, 
and cloaking its want of thought in mimetic dogmas, 
and its want of feeling in superficial raillery; it is not 
merely that it has neither imagination, nor fancy, nor 
sentiment, nor feeling, nor knowledge to recommend 
it; but it appears to me, even as regards manner and 
expression, inferior in refinement and phraseology; in 
short, trivial, uninteresting, stupid, really vulgar. 

It seemed to Egremont that, from the day he met 
these persons in the Abbey ruins, the horizon of his 
experience had insensibly expanded; more than that, 
there were streaks of light breaking in the distance, 
which already gave a new aspect to much that was 
known, and which perhaps was ultimately destined 
to reveal much that was now utterly obscure. He 
could not resist the conviction that, from the time in 
question, his sympathies had become more lively and 
more extended; that a masculine impulse had been 
given to his mind; that he was inclined to view pub- 
lic questions in a light very different from that in 
which he had surveyed them a few weeks back, 
when on the hustings of his borough. 

Revolving these things, he emerged, as we have 



I90 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

stated, into the plain of the Mowe, and, guiding his 
path by the course of the river, he arrived at the 
bridge which a fancy tempted him to cross. In its 
centre was a man gazing on the waters below and 
leaning over the parapet. His footstep roused the 
loiterer, who looked round; and Egremont saw that 
it was Walter Gerard. 

Gerard returned his salute, and said, 'Early hours 
on Saturday afternoon make us all saunterers;' and 
then, as their way was the same, they walked on 
together. It seemed that Gerard's cottage was near 
at hand, and, having inquired after Egremont's sport, 
and receiving for a reply a present of a brace of 
trout, — the only one, by-the-bye, that was in Egre- 
mont's basket, — he could scarcely do less than invite 
his companion to rest himself.' 

'There is my home,' said Gerard, pointing to a 
cottage recently built, and in a pleasing style. Its 
materials were of a fawn-coloured stone, common in 
the Mowbray quarries. A scarlet creeper clustered 
round one side of its ample porch; its windows were 
large, mullioned, and neatly latticed; it stood in the 
midst of a garden of no mean dimensions, but every 
bed and nook of which teemed with cultivation; 
flowers and vegetables both abounded, while an 
orchard rich with the promise of many fruits — ripe 
pears and famous pippins of the north and plums of 
every shape and hue — screened the dwelling from 
that wind against which the woods that formed its 
background were no protection. 

'And you are well lodged! Your garden does 
you honour.' 

'I'll be honest enough to own I have no claim to 
the credit,' said Gerard. 'I am but a lazy chiel.' 



SYBIL 



191 



They entered the cottage where a hale old woman 
greeted them. 

*She is too old to be my wife, and too young to 
be my mother,' said Gerard, smiling; 'but she is a 
good creature, and has looked after me many a long 
day. Come, dame,' he said, 'thou'lt bring us a cup 
of tea; 'tis a good evening beverage,' he added, turn- 
ing to Egremont, ' and what I ever take at this time. 
And if you care to light a pipe, you will find a com- 
panion.' 

*I have renounced tobacco,' said Egremont; * to- 
bacco is the tomb of love, ' and they entered a neatly- 
furnished chamber, having that habitable look which 
the best room of a farm-house too often wants. In- 
stead of the cast-off furniture of other establishments, 
at the same time dingy and tawdry, mock rosewood 
chairs and tarnished mahogany tables, it contained an 
oaken table, some cottage chairs made of beech-wood, 
and a Dutch clock. But what surprised Egremont 
was the appearance of several shelves well lined with 
volumes. Their contents, too, on closer inspection 
were remarkable. They indicated a student of a high 
order. Egremont read the titles of works which he 
only knew by fame, but which treated of the loftiest 
and most subtle questions of social and political phi- 
losophy. As he was throwing his eyes over them, 
his companion said, * Ah ! I see you think me as great 
a scholar as I am a gardener; but with as little justice; 
these books are not mine.' 

*To whomsoever they belong,' said Egremont, Mf 
we are to judge from his collection, he has a tolerably 
strong head.' 

*Ay, ay,' said Gerard, 'the world will hear of 
him yet, though he was only a workman, and the 



192 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



son of a workman. He has not been at your schools 
and your colleges, but he can write his mother tongue 
as Shakespeare and Cobbett wrote it; and you must 
do that, if you wish to influence the people.' 

'And might I ask his name?' said Egremont. 

'Stephen Morley, my friend.' 

'The person I saw with you at Marney Abbey?' 

'The same.' 

'And he lives with you?' 

' Why, we kept house together, if you would call 
it so. Stephen does not give much trouble in 
that way. He only drinks water and only eats herbs 
and fruits. He is the gardener,' added Gerard, smil- 
ing. ' 1 don't know how we shall fare when he 
leaves me.' 

'And is he going to leave you?' 

' Why, in a manner he has gone. He has taken 
a cottage about a quarter of a mile up dale, and only 

left his books here because he is going into shire 

in a day or two, on some business that maybe will take 
him a week or so. The books are safer here, you see, 
for the present, for Stephen lives alone, and is a good 
deal away, for he edits a paper at Mowbray, and 
that must be looked after. He is to be my gardener 
still. I promised him that. Well done, dame,' said 
Gerard, as the old woman entered; '1 hope, for the 
honour of the house, a good brew. Now, comrade, 
sit down: it will do you good after your long stroll. 
You should eat your own trout if you would wait.' 

' By no means. You will miss your friend, I 
should think.' 

'We shall see a good deal of him, I doubt not, 
what with the garden and neighbourhood and so on; 
besides, in a manner, he is master of his own time. 



SYBIL 



193 



His work is not like ours; and though the pull on 
the brain is sometimes great, I have often wished I 
had a talent that way. It's a drear life to do the 
same thing every day at the same hour. But I never 
could express my ideas except with my tongue; and 
there I feel tolerably at home.' 

*It will be a pity to see this room without these 
books,' said Egremont, encouraging conversation on 
domestic subjects. 

*So it will,' said Gerard. M have got very few of 
my own. But my daughter will be able to fill the 
shelves in time, 1 warrant.' 

* Your daughter; she is coming to Hve with you?' 
*Yes; that is the reason why Stephen quits us. 

He only remained here until Sybil could keep my 
house, and that happy day is at hand.' 

* That is a great compensation for the loss of your 
friend,' said Egremont. 

*And yet she talks of flitting,' said Gerard, in rather 
a melancholy tone. 'She hankers after the clois- 
ter. She has passed a still, sweet life in the convent 
here; the Superior is the sister of my employer and 
a very saint on earth; and Sybil knows nothing of 
the real world except its sufferings. No matter,' he 
added more cheerfully; M would not have her take 
the veil rashly, but, if I lose her, it may be for the 
best. For the married life of a woman of our class, 
in the present condition of our country, is a lease of 
woe,' he added, shaking his head, * slaves, and the 
slaves of slaves! Even woman's spirit cannot stand ~ 
against it; and it can bear up against more than we 
can master.* 

* Your daughter is not made for the common cares 
of life,' said Egremont. 

14 B. D.— 13 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'We'll not talk of them,' said Gerard. 'Sybil has 
an English heart, and that's not easily broken. And 
you, comrade, you are a traveller in these parts, eh?' 

'A kind of traveller; something in the way of 
your friend Morley — connected with the press.' 

'Indeed! a reporter, eh? 1 thought you had some- 
thing about you a little more knowing than we pro- 
vincials.' 

'Yes; a reporter. They want information in Lon- 
don as to the real state of the country, and this time 
of the year, Parliament not sitting — ' 

'Ah; 1 understand, a flying commission and a 
summer tour. Well, I often wish I were a penman; 
but 1 never could do it. I'll read any day as long as 
you like, but that writing 1 could never manage. My 
friend Morley is a powerful hand at it. His journal 
circulates a good deal about here; and if, as I often 
tell him, he would only sink his high-flying philoso- 
phy and stick to old English politics, he might make 
a property of it. You'll hke to know him?' 

'Much.' 

'And what first took you to the press, if I may 
ask ? ' 

'Why — my father was a gentleman,' said Egre- 
mont in a hesitating tone, 'and I was a younger 
son.' 

'Ah!' said Gerard, 'that is as bad as being a 
woman.' 

*I had no patrimony,' continued Egremont, 'and 
I was obliged to work; I had no head, I believe, for 
the law; the Church was not exactly in my way; and 
as for the army, how was I to advance without money 
or connections ? I had had some education, and so I 
thought I would turn it to account.' 



SYBIL 



195 



'Wisely done! you are one of the working classes, 
and will enlist, 1 hope, in the great struggle against 
the drones. The natural friends of the people are 
younger sons, though they are generally enlisted 
against us. The more fools they, to devote their en- 
ergies to the maintenance of a system which is 
founded on selfishness and which leads to fraud; and 
of which they are the first victims. But every man 
thinks he will be an exception.' 

'And yet,' said Egremont, 'a great family, rooted 
in the land, has been deemed to be an element of 
political strength.' 

'I'll tell you what,' said Gerard, 'there is a great 
family in this country, and rooted in it, of which we 
have heard much less than they deserved, but of 
which I suspect we shall very soon hear enough to 
make us all think a bit.' 

' In this county ? ' 

'Ay; in this county and every other one'. I mean 
the People.' 

'Ah!' said Egremont, 'that family has existed for 
a long time.' 

' But it has taken to increase rapidly of late, my 
friend — how may I call you?' 
'They call me Franklin.' 

'A good English name of a good English class 
that has disappeared. Well, Mr. Franklin, be sure of 
this, that the population returns of this country are 
very instructive reading.' 

'I can conceive so.' 

'I became a man when the bad times were be- 
ginning,' said Gerard; 'I have passed through many 
doleful years. I was a Franklin's son myself, and we 
had lived on this island at least no worse for a longer 



196 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



time than I care to recollect, as little as what I am 
now. But that's nothing; I am not thinking of my- 
self. I am prosperous in a fashion; it is the serfs I 
live among of whom I am thinking. Well, I have 
heard, in the course of years, of some specifics for 
this constant degradation of the people; some thing 
or some person that was to put all right; and for my 
part, I was not unready to support any proposal or 
follow any leader. There was reform, and there was 
paper money, and no machinery, and a thousand 
other remedies; and there were demagogues of all 
kinds, some as base as myself, and some with blood 
in their veins almost as costly as flows in those of 
our great neighbour here. Earl de Mowbray, — and I 
have always heard that was very choice; but I will 
frankly own to you, I never had much faith in any of 
these proposals or proposers; still, they were a change, 
and that is something. But I have been persuaded of 
late that there is something going on in this country 
of more efficacy; a remedial power, as I believe, and 
irresistible; but whether remedial or not, at any rate 
a power that will mar all or cure all. You apprehend 
me ? I speak of the annual arrival of more than three 
hundred thousand strangers in this island. How will 
you feed them ? How will you clothe them ? How 
will you house them ? They have given up butcher's 
meat; must they give up bread? And as for raiment 
and shelter, the rags of the kingdom are exhausted, 
and your sinks and cellars already swarm like rabbit 
warrens.' 

"Tis an awful consideration,' said Egremont, mus- 
ing. 

'Awful,' said Gerard; "tis the most solemn thing 
since the deluge. What kingdom can stand against 



SYBIL 



197 



it? Why, go to your history — you're a scholar — and 
see the fall of the great Roman empire; what was 
that? Every now and then there came two or three 
hundred thousand strangers out of the forests, and 
crossed the mountains and rivers. They come to us 
every year, and in greater numbers. What are your 
invasions of the barbarous nations, your Goths and 
Visigoths, your Lombards and Huns, to our popula- 
tion returns!' 



CHAPTER XXIII. 




Tragedies of a Mining Town. 



HE last rays of the sun contending 
I with clouds of smoke that drifted 
across the country, partially illu- 



mined a pecuHar landscape. Far as 



' the eye could reach, and the region 
was level, except where a range 



of limestone hills formed its distant limit, a wilder- 
ness of cottages, or tenements that were hardly en- 
titled to a higher name, were scattered for many 
miles over the land; some detached, some connected 
in little rows, some clustering in groups, yet rarely 
forming continuous streets, but interspersed with 
blazing furnaces, heaps of burning coal, and piles of 
smouldering ironstone; while forges and engine chim- 
neys roared and puffed in all directions, and indicated 
the frequent presence of the mouth of the mine, and 
the bank of the coal-pit. Notwithstanding the whole 
country might be compared to a vast rabbit warren, 
it was nevertheless intersected with canals, crossing 
each other at various levels; and though the subter- 
ranean operations were prosecuted with so much 
avidity that it was not uncommon to observe whole 
rows of houses awry, from the shifting and hollow 



(198) 



SYBIL 



199 



nature of the land, still, intermingled with heaps of 
mineral refuse, or of metallic dross, patches of the 
surface might here and there be recognised, covered, 
as if in mockery, with grass and corn, looking very 
much like those gentlemen's sons that we used to 
read of in our youth, stolen by the chimneysweeps, 
and giving some intimations of their breeding beneath 
their grimy livery. But a tree or a shrub, such an 
existence was unknown in this dingy rather than 
dreary region. 

It was the twilight hour; the hour at which in 
southern climes the peasant kneels before the sunset 
image of the blessed Hebrew maiden; when caravans 
halt in their long course over vast deserts, and the 
turbaned traveller, bending in the sand, pays his 
homage to the sacred stone and the sacred city; the 
hour, not less holy, that announces the cessation of 
English toil, and sends forth the miner and the collier 
to breathe the air of earth, and gaze on the light of 
heaven. 

They come forth: the mine delivers its gang and 
the pit its bondsmen; the forge is silent and the en- 
gine is still. The plain is covered with the swarming 
multitude: bands of stalwart men, broad-chested and 
muscular, wet with toil, and black as the children of 
the tropics; troops of youth, alas! of both sexes, 
though neither their raiment nor their language indi- 
cates the difference; all are clad in male attire; and 
oaths that men might shudder at issue from lips 
born to breathe words of sweetness. Yet these are 
to be, some are, the mothers of England! But can 
we wonder at the hideous coarseness of their lan- 
guage, when we remember the savage rudeness of 
their lives ? Naked to the waist, an iron chain 



200 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



fastened to a belt of leather runs between their legs 
clad in canvas trousers, while on hands and feet an 
English girl, for twelve, sometimes for sixteen hours 
a day, hauls and hurries tubs of coals up subterranean 
roads, dark, precipitous, and plashy; circumstances 
that seem to have escaped the notice of the Society 
for the Abolition of Negro Slavery. Those worthy 
gentlemen, too, appear to have been singularly uncon- 
scious of the sufferings of the little trappers, which 
was remarkable, as many of them were in their own 
employ. 

See, too, these emerge from the bowels of the 
earth! Infants of four and five years of age, many of 
them girls, pretty and still soft and timid; entrusted 
with the fulfilment of responsible duties, the very na- 
ture of which entails on them the necessity of being 
the earliest to enter the mine and the latest to leave 
it. Their labour indeed is not severe, for that would 
be impossible, but it is passed in darkness and in 
solitude. They endure that punishment which phil- 
osophical philanthropy has invented for the direst 
criminals, and which those criminals deem more ter- 
rible than the death for which it is substituted. Hour 
after hour elapses, and all that reminds the infant 
trappers of the world they have quitted, and that 
which they have joined, is the passage of the coal- 
waggons for which they open the air-doors of the 
galleries, and on keeping which doors constantly 
closed, except at this moment of passage, the safety 
of the mine and the lives of the persons employed in 
it entirely depend. 

Sir Joshua, a man of genius and a courtly artist, 
struck by the seraphic countenance of Lady Alice 
Gordon, when a child of very tender years, painted 



SYBIL 



20 1 



the celestial visage in various attitudes on the same 
canvas, and styled the group of heavenly faces guardian 
angels ! 

We would say to some great master of the pencil, 
Mr. Landseer, or Mr. Etty, go thou to the little trap- 
pers and do likewise! 

A small party of miners approached a house of 
more pretension than the generality of the dwellings, 
and announcing its character by a flagrant sign of the 
Rising Sun. They entered it as men accustomed, 
and were greeted with smiles and many civil words 
from the lady at the bar, who enquired cheerfully 
what the gentlemen would have. They soon found 
themselves seated in the tap, and, though it was not 
entirely unoccupied, in their accustomed places; for 
there seemed a general understanding that they en- 
joyed a prescriptive right. 

With hunches of white bread in their black 
hands, and grinning with their sable countenances 
*and ivory teeth, they really looked like a gang of 
negroes at a revel. 

The cups of ale circulated, the pipes were lighted, 
the preliminary puffs achieved. There was at length 
silence, when he who seemed their leader, and who 
filled a sort of president's seat, took his pipe from 
his mouth, and then uttering the first complete sen- 
tence that had yet been expressed aloud, thus deliv- 
ered himself: 

*The fact is, we are tommied to death.' 

*You never spoke a truer word, Master Nixon,' 
said one of his companions. 

Mt's gospel, every word of it,' said another. 

'And the point is,' continued Master Nixon, 'what 
are we for to do ? ' 



202 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Ay, surely,' said a collier, 'that's the marrow.' 

'Ay, ay,' agreed several; 'there it is.' 

'The question is,' said Nixon, looking round with 
a magisterial air, ' what is wages ? I say, 'tayn't 
sugar, 'tayn't tea, 'tayn't bacon. I don't think 'tis 
candles; but of this I be sure, 'tayn't waistcoats.' 

Here there was a general groan. 

'Comrades,' continued Nixon, 'you know what 
has happened; you know as how Juggins applied for 
his balance after his tommy-book was paid up, and 
that incarnate nigger Diggs has made him take two 
waistcoats. Now the question rises, what is a collier 
to do with waistcoats.? Pawn 'em, 1 s'pose, to Diggs' 
son-in-law, next door to his father's shop, and sell 
the ticket for sixpence. Now, there's the question; 
keep to the question; the question is waistcoats and 
tommy; first waistcoats, and then tommy.' 

'I have been making a pound a week these two 
months past,' said another, 'but, as I'm a sinner 
saved, I have never seen the young Queen's picture 
yet.' 

'And 1 have been obliged to pay the doctor for 
my poor wife in tommy,' said another. '"Doctor," 
I said, says 1, "I blush to do it, but all I have got 
is tommy, and what shall it be, bacon or cheese?" 
"Cheese at tenpence a pound," says he, "which I 
buy for my servants at sixpence! Never mind," says 
he, for he is a thorough Christian, "I'll take the 
tommy as I find it." ' 

' Juggins has got his rent to pay, and is afeard of 
the bums,' said Nixon; 'and he has got two waist- 
coats ! ' 

'Besides,' said another, 'Diggs' tommy is only 
open once a-week, and if you're not there in time, 



SYBIL 



you go over for another seven days. And it's such 
a distance, and he keeps a body there such a time; 
it's always a day's work for my poor woman; she 
can't do nothing after it, what with the waiting, and 
the standing, and the cussing of Master Joseph Diggs; 
for he do swear at the women, when they rush in 
for the first turn, most fearful.' 

' They do say he's a shocking little dog.' 

* Master Joseph is wery wiolent, but there is no 
one like old Diggs for grabbing a bit of one's wages. 
He do so love it! And then he says you never need 
be at no loss for nothing; you can find everything 
under my roof. I should like to know who is to 
mend our shoes. Has Gaffer Diggs a cobbler's stall ? ' 

'Or sell us a penn'orth of potatoes,' said another. 
*0r a ha'porth of milk.' 

*No; and so to get them one is obHged to go and 
sell some tommy, and much one gets for it. Bacon 
at ninepence a-pound at Diggs', which you may get 
at a huckster's for sixpence; and therefore the huck- 
ster can't be expected to give you more than four- 
pence-halfpenny, by which token the tommy in our 
field just cuts our wages atween the navel.' 

'And that's as true as if you heard it in church. 
Master Waghorn.' 

' This Diggs seems to be an oppressor of the peo- 
ple,' said a voice from a distant corner of the room. 

Master Nixon looked around, smoked, puffed, and 
then said, ' I should think he wor; as bloody-a-hearted 
butty* as ever jingled.' 

*A butty in the mining districts is a middleman: a doggy is his 
manager. The butty generally keeps a tommy, or truck shop, and 
pays the wages of his labourers in goods. When miners and colliers 
strike, they term it 'going to play.' 



204 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'But what business has a butty to keep a shop?' 
inquired the stranger. 'The law touches him.' 

M should like to know who would touch the law,* 
said Nixon; 'not I for one. Them tommy-shops is 
very delicate things; they won't stand no handling, I 
can tell you that.' 

'But he cannot force you to take goods,' said the 
stranger; 'he must pay you in current coin of the 
realm if you demand it.' 

'They only pay us once in five weeks,' said a 
collier; 'and how is a man to live meanwhile? And 
suppose we were to make shift for a month or five 
weeks, and have all our money coming, and have 
no tommy out of the shop, what would the butty 
say to me? He would say, "Do you want e'er a 
note this time?" and if I was to say, "No," then 
he would say, "You've no call to go down to 
work any more here." And that's what I call forsa- 
tion.' 

'Ay, ay,' said another collier; 'ask for the young 
Queen's picture, and you would soon have to put 
your shirt on, and go up the shaft.' 

'It's them long reckonings that force us to the 
tommy-shops,' said another collier; 'and if a butty 
turns you away because you won't take no tommy, 
you're a marked man in every field about.' 

'There's wuss things as tommy,' said a collier who 
had hitherto been silent, ' and that's these here butties. 
What's going on in the pit is known only to God 
Almighty and the colliers. I have been a consistent 
Methodist for many years, strived to do well, and all 
the harm I have ever done to the butties was to tell 
them that their deeds would not stand on the day of 
judgment.' 



SYBIL 



205 



'They are deeds of darkness surely; for many's the 
morn we work for nothing, by one excuse or another, 
and many's the good stint that they undermeasure. 
And many's the cup of their ale that you must drink 
before they will give you any work. If the Queen 
would do something for us poor men, it would be a 
blessed job.' 

'There ayn't no black tyrant on this earth like a 
butty, surely,' said a collier; 'and there's no redress 
for poor men.' 

' But why do not you state your grievances to the 
landlords and lessees?* said the stranger. 

'I take it you be a stranger in these parts, sir,' 
said Master Nixon, following up this remark by an 
enormous puff. He was the oracle of his circle, and 
there was silence whenever he was inclined to ad- 
dress them, which was not too often, though when 
he spoke, his words, as his followers often observed, 
were a regular ten-yard coal. 

'I take it you be a stranger in these parts, sir, or 
else you would know that it's as easy for a miner 
to speak to a main-master as it is for me to pick 
coal with this here clay. Sir, there's a gulf atween 
'em. 1 went into the pit when 1 was five year old, 
and counts forty year in the service come Martinmas, 
and a very good age, sir, for a man that does his 
work, and I knows what I'm speaking about. In 
forty year, sir, a man sees a pretty deal, 'specially 
when he don't move out of the same spot and keeps 
his 'tention. I've been at play, sir, several times in 
forty year, and have seen as great stick-outs as ever 
happened in this country. I've seen the people at play 
for weeks together, and so clammed that I never 
tasted nothing but a potato and a little salt for more 



2o6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



than a fortnight. Talk of tommy, that was hard fare, 
but we were holding out for our rights, and that's 
sauce for any gander. And Til tell you what, sir, 
that I never knew the people play yet, but if a word 
had passed atween them and the main-masters afore- 
hand, it might not have been settled; but you can't 
get at them any way. Atween the poor man and the 
gentleman there never was no connection, and that's 
the wital mischief of this country.' 

Mt's a very true word, Master Nixon, and by this 
token that when we went to play in '28, and the 
masters said they would meet us, what did they do 
but walk about the ground and speak to the butties. 
The butties has their ear.' 

'We never want no soldiers here if the masters 
would speak with the men; but the sight of a pit- 
man is pison to a gentleman, and if we go up to 
speak with 'em, they always run away.' 

Mt's the butties,' said Nixon; 'they're wusser nor 
tommy.' 

'The people will never have their rights,' said the 
stranger, 'until they learn their power. Suppose, in- 
stead of sticking out and playing, fifty of your fami- 
lies were to live under one roof. You would live 
better than you live now; you would feed more fully, 
and be lodged and clothed more comfortably, and 
you might save half the amount of your wages; you 
would become capitalists; you might yourselves hire 
your mines and pits from the owners, and pay them 
a better rent than they now obtain, and yet yourselves 
gain more and work less.' 

'Sir,' said Mr. Nixon, taking his pipe from his 
mouth, and sending forth a volume of smoke, 'you 
speak like a book.' 



SYBIL 



207 



Mt is the principle of association/ said the stranger; 
'the want of the age.' 

'Sir,' said Mr. Nixon, 'this here age wants a great 
deal, but what it principally wants is to have its 
wages paid in the current coin of the realm.' 

Soon after this there were symptoms of empty 
mugs and exhausted pipes, and the party began to 
stir. The stranger addressing Nixon, inquired of him 
what was their present distance from Wodgate. 

'Wodgate!' exclaimed Mr. Nixon with an uncon- 
scious air. 

'The gentleman means Hell-house Yard,' said one 
of his companions. 

'I'm at home,' said Mr. Nixon, 'but 'tis the first 
time I ever heard Hell-house Yard called Wodgate.' 

'It's called so in joggraphy,' said Juggins. 

'But you bay'nt going to Hell-house Yard this 
time of night!' said Mr. Nixon. 'I'd as soon think 
of going down the pit with the windlass turned by 
lushy Bob.' 

"Tayn't a journey for Christians,' said Juggins. 
'They're a very queer lot even in sunshine,' said 
another. 

'And how far is it?' asked the stranger. 

'I walked there once in three hours,' said a col- 
lier, 'but that was to the wake. If you want to see 
divils carnal, there's your time of day. They're no 
less than heathens, I be sure. I'd be sorry to see 
even our butty among them, for he is a sort of a 
Christian when he has taken a glass of ale.' 



CHAPTER XXIV. 




A Family Quarrel. 

WO days after the visit of Egre- 
mont to the cottage of Walter 
Gerard, the visit of the Marney 
family to Mowbray terminated, 
and they returned to the Abbey. 
There is something mournful in 
the breaking up of an agreeable party, and few are the 
roofs under which one has sojourned that are quitted 
without some feeling of depression. The sudden ces- 
sation of all those sources of excitement which pervade 
a gay and well-arranged mansion in the country un- 
strings the nervous system. For a week or so, we 
have done nothing which was not agreeable, and heard 
nothing which was not pleasant. Our self-love has 
been respected; there has been a total cessation of petty 
cares; all the enjoyment of an establishment without 
any of its solicitude. We have beheld civilisation 
only in its favoured aspect, and tasted only the sunny 
side of the fruit. Sometimes there are associations 
with our visit of a still sweeter and softer character, 
but on these we need not dwell: glances that cannot 
be forgotten, and tones that linger in the ear; senti- 
ment that subdues the soul, and flirtation that agitates 
(208) 



SYBIL 



209 



the fancy. No matter, whatever may be the cause, 
one too often drives away from a country-house rather 
hipped. The specific would be immediately to drive to 
another, and it is a favourite remedy. But sometimes 
it is not in our power; sometimes, for instance, we 
must return to our household gods in the shape of a 
nursery; and though this was not the form assumed 
by the penates of Lord Marney, his presence, the 
presence of an individual so important and indefati- 
gable, was still required. His lordship had passed his 
time at Mowbray to his satisfaction. He had had 
his own way in everything. His selfishness had not 
received a single shock. He had laid down the law 
and it had not been questioned. He had dogmatised 
and impugned, and his assertions had passed current^ 
and his doctrines had been accepted as orthodox. 
Lord de Mowbray suited him; he liked the consider- 
ation of so great a personage. Lord Marney also 
really Hked pomp, a curious table, and a luxurious life ; 
but he liked them under any roof rather than his 
own. Not that he was what is commonly called a 
screw, that is to say, he was not a mere screw; but 
he was acute and malicious; saw everybody's worth 
and position at a glance; could not bear to expend 
his choice wines and costly viands on hangers-on and 
toad-eaters, though at the same time no man encour- 
aged and required hangers-on and toad-eaters more. 
Lord Marney had all the petty social vices, and none 
of those petty social weaknesses which soften their 
harshness or their hideousness. To receive a prince 
of the blood, or a great peer, he would spare noth- 
ing. Had he to fulfil any of the public duties of his 
station, his performance would baffle criticism. But 
he enjoyed making the Vicar of Marney or Captain 

14 B. D.— 14 



2IO BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Grouse drink some claret that was on the wane, or 
praise a bottle of Burgundy that he knew was 
pricked. 

Little things affect little minds. Lord Marney rose 
in no very good humour; he was kept at the station, 
which aggravated his spleen. During his journey on 
the railroad he spoke Httle, and though he more than 
once laboured to get up a controversy he was un- 
able, for Lady Marney, who rather dreaded her dulj 
home, and was not yet in a tone of mind that could 
hail the presence of the little Poinsett as full compen^ 
sation for the brilliant circle of Mowbray, replied in 
amiable monosyllables, and Egremont himself in aus- 
tere ones, for he was musing over Sybil Gerard and 
a thousand things as wild and sweet. 

Everything went wrong this day. Even Captain 
Grouse was not at the Abbey to welcome them back. 
He was playing in a cricket match, Marney against 
Marham. Nothing else would have induced him to 
be absent. So it happened that the three fellow-trav- 
ellers had to dine together, utterly weary of them- 
selves and of each other. Captain Grouse was never 
more wanted; he would have amused Lord Marney, 
relieved his wife and brother, reported all that had 
been said and done in their neighbourhood during 
their absence, introduced a new tone, and effected a 
happy diversion. Leaving Mowbray, detained at the 
station. Grouse away, some disagreeable letters, or 
letters which an ill-humoured man chooses to esteem 
disagreeable, seemed to announce a climax. Lord 
Marney ordered the dinner to be served in the small 
dining-room, which was contiguous to a saloon in 
which Lady Marney, when they were alone, generally 
passed the evening. 



SYBIL 



211 



The dinner was silent and sombre; happily it was 
also short. Lord Marney tasted several dishes, ate 
of none; found fault with his own claret, though the 
butler had given him a choice bottle; praised Lord 
Mowbray's, wondered where he got it, 'all the wines 
at Mowbray were good;* then for the twentieth time 
wondered what could have induced Grouse to fix the 
cricket match the day he returned home, though he 
chose to forget that he had never communicated to 
Grouse even the probable day on which he might be 
expected. 

As for Egremont, it must be admitted that he 
was scarcely in a more contented mood than his 
brother, though he had not such insufficient cause 
for his dark humours. In quitting Mowbray, he had 
quitted something else than merely an agreeable cir- 
cle: enough had happened in that visit to stir up the 
deep recesses of his heart, and to prompt him to in- 
vestigate in an unusual spirit the cause and attributes 
of his position. He had found a letter on his return 
to the Abbey not calculated to dispel these some- 
what morbid feelings; a letter from his agent urging 
the settlement of his election accounts, the primary 
cause of his visit to his brother. 

Lady Marney left the dining-room; the brothers 
were alone. Lord Marney filled a bumper, which he 
drank off rapidly, pushed the bottle to his brother, 
and then said again, 'What a cursed bore it is that 
Grouse is not here! ' 

'Well, I cannot say, George, that I particularly 
miss the presence of Captain Grouse,' said his brother. 

Lord Marney looked at Egremont pugnaciously, 
and then observed, 'Grouse is a capital fellow; one 
is never dull when Grouse is here.' 



212 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Well, for my part,' said Egremont, M do not 
much admire that amusement which is dependent on 
the efforts of hangers-on.' 

'Grouse is no more a hanger-on than any one 
else,' said Lord Marney, rather fiercely. 

'Perhaps not,' said Egremont quietly; 'I am no 
judge of such sort of people.' 

M should like to know what you are a judge of; 
certainly not of making yourself agreeable to young 
ladies. Arabella cannot be particularly charmed with 
the result of your visit to Mowbray, as far as Lady 
Joan is concerned, Arabella's most intimate friend, by- 
the-bye. If for no other reason, you ought to have 
paid her more attention.' 

'I cannot pay attention unless I am attracted,* said 
Egremont; *I have not the ever-ready talent of your 
friend, Captain Grouse.' 

' I do not know what you mean by my friend. Cap- 
tain Grouse. Captain Grouse is no more my friend 
than your friend. One must have people about the 
house to do a thousand things which one cannot do 
one's self, and which one cannot trust to servants, 
and Grouse does all this capitally.' 

'Exactly; he is just what 1 said, a capital hanger-on 
if you hke, but still a hanger-on.' 

' Well, and what then ? Suppose he is a hanger-on; 
may I not have hangers-on as well as any other 
man ? ' 

'Of course you may; but I am not bound to regret 
their absence.' 

'Who said you were? But I will regret their ab- 
sence, if I choose. And 1 regret the absence of 
Grouse, regret it very much; and if he did happen to 
be inextricably engaged in this unfortunate match, I 



SYBIL 



213 



say, and you may contradict me, if you please, that 
he ought to have taken care that Slimsy dined here, 
to tell me all that had happened.' 

'I am very glad he omitted to do so,' said Egre- 
mont; 'I prefer Grouse to Slimsy.' 

*I dare say you do,' said Lord Marney, filling his 
glass and looking very black; 'you would like, I have 
no doubt, to see a fine gentleman-saint, like your 
friend Mr. St. Lys, at Marney, preaching in cottages, 
filling the people with discontent, lecturing me about 
low wages, soliciting plots of ground for new churches, 
and inveigling Arabella into subscriptions to painted 
windows.' 

*I certainly should like to see a man like Aubrey 
St. Lys at Marney,' said Egremont quietly, but rather 
doggedly. 

'And if he were here, I would soon see who 
should be master,' said Lord Marney; *I would not 
succumb hke Mowbray. One might as well have a 
Jesuit in the house at once.' 

* I dare say St. Lys would care very little about 
entering your house,' said Egremont. *I know it was 
with great reluctance that he ever came to Mowbray 
Castle.' 

M dare say; very great reluctance indeed. And 
very reluctant he was, I make no doubt, to sit next 
to Lady Maud. I wonder he does not fly higher, and 
preach to Lady Joan ; but she is too sensible a woman 
for such fanatical tricks.' 

'St. Lys thinks it his duty to enter all societies. 
That is the reason why he goes to Mowbray Castle, 
as well as to the squalid courts and cellars of the 
town. He takes care that those who are clad in pur- 
ple and fine Hnen shall know the state of their neigh- 



114 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



bours. They cannot at least plead ignorance for the 
non-fulfilment of their duty. Before St. Lys' time, the 
family at Mowbray Castle might as well have not ex- 
isted, so far as benefiting their miserable vicinage. 
It would be well perhaps for other districts not less 
wretched, and for other families as high and favoured 
as the Mowbrays, if there were a Mr. St. Lys on the 
spot instead of a Mr. Slimsey.' 

*I suppose that is meant for a cut,* said Lord 
Marney; 'but I wish the people were as well off in 
every part of the country as they are on my estate. 
They get here their eight shillings a week, always at 
least seven, and every hand is at this moment in 
employ, except a parcel of scoundrels who prefer wood- 
stealing and poaching, and who would prefer wood- 
stealing and poaching if you gave them double the 
wages. The rate of wages is nothing; certainty is 
the thing; and every man at Marney may be sure of 
his seven shillings a week for at least nine months in 
the year; and for the other three, they can go to the 
House, and a very proper place for them ; it is heated 
with hot air, and has every comfort. Even Marney 
Abbey is not heated with hot air. I have often thought 
of it; it makes me mad sometimes to think of those 
lazy, pampered menials passing their lives with their 
backs to a great roaring fire; but I am afraid of the 
flues.' 

'I wonder, talking of fires, that you are not more 
afraid of burning ricks,' said Egremont. 

'It's an infernal lie,' said Lord Marney, very vio- 
lently. 

'What is?' said Egremont. 

'That there is any incendiarism in this neighbour- 
hood.' 



SYBIL 



215 



'Why, there was a fire the day after I came.' 

'That had nothing to do with wages; it was an 
accident. I examined into it myself; so did Grouse, 
so did SHmsey; I sent them about everywhere. I told 
them I was sure the fire was purely accidental, and 
to go and see about it; and they came back, and 
agreed that it was purely accidental.' 

M dare say they did,' said Egremont; 'but no one 
has discovered the accident.' 

'For my part, I believe it was spontaneous com- 
bustion,' said Lord Marney. 

'That is a satisfactory solution,' said Egremont; 
'but for my part, the fire being a fact, and it being 
painfully notorious that the people of Marney — ' 

'Well, sir, the people of Marney?' said his lord- 
ship, fiercely. 

'Are without question the most miserable popula- 
tion in the county — ' 

'Did Mr. St. Lys tell you that.?' interrupted Lord 
Marney, white with rage. 

'No, not Mr. St. Lys, but one better acquainted 
with the neighbourhood.' 

'I'll know your informanfs name,' said Lord Mar- 
ney, with energy. 

'My informant was a woman,' said Egremont. 

'Lady Maud, I suppose; second-hand from Mr. St. 
Lys.' 

'My informant was a woman, and one of the 
people,' said Egremont. 

'Some poacher's drab! 1 don't care what women 
say; high or low, they always exaggerate.' 

'The misery of a family who live upon seven 
or even eight shillings a week can scarcely be exag- 
gerated.' 



2i6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

'What should you know about it? Did you ever 
live on seven or eight shillings a week? What can 
you know about the people, who pass your time at 
London clubs or in fine country houses ? I suppose 
you want the people to live as they do at a house 
dinner at Boodle's. I say that a family can live well 
on seven shilHngs a week, and on eight shillings very 
well indeed. The poor are well off, at least the agri- 
cultural poor, very well off indeed. Their incomes 
are certain, that is a great point, and they have no 
cares, no anxieties; they always have a resource, they 
always have the House. People without cares do not 
require so much food as those whose life entails 
anxieties. See how long they live! Compare the 
rate of mortality among them with that of the manu- 
facturing districts. Incendiarism indeed! If there had 
been a proper rural police, such a thing as incen- 
diarism would never have been heard of!' 

There was a pause. Lord Marney dashed off an- 
other bumper; Egremont sipped his wine. At length he 
said, 'This argument made me forget the principal 
reason, George, why 1 am glad that we are alone 
together to-day. I am sorry to bore you, but I am 
bored myself deucedly. I find a letter from my 
agent. These election accounts must be settled.' 

'Why, I thought they were settled.' 

'How do you mean?' 

'I thought my mother had given you a thousand 
pounds.' 

'No doubt of that, but that was long ago dis- 
posed of.' 

'In my opinion quite enough for a seat in these 
times. Instead of paying to get into Parliament, a 
man ought to be paid for entering it.' 



SYBIL 



217 



'There may be a good deal in what you say,' 
said Egremont; 'but it is too late to take that view of 
the business. The expense has been incurred and 
must be met' 

'I don't see that/ said Lord Marney; 'we have 
paid one thousand pounds and there is a balance un- 
settled. When was there ever a contest without a 
balance being unsettled? I remember hearing my 
father often say that when he stood for this county, 
our grandfather paid more than a hundred thousand 
pounds, and yet I know to this day there are accounts 
unsettled. Regularly every year I receive anonymous 
letters threatening me with .fearful punishment if I 
don't pay one hundred and fifty pounds for a break- 
fast at the Jolly Tinkers.' 

'You jest: the matter indeed requires a serious 
vein. I wish these accounts to be settled at once.' 

'And 1 should like to know where the funds are 
to come from ! I have none. The quantity of barns I 
am building now is something tremendous! Then 
this rage for draining; it would dry up any purse. 
What think you of two million tiles this year? And 
rents, to keep up which we are making these awful 
sacrifices; they are merely nominal, or soon will be. 
They never will be satisfied till they have touched the. 
land. That is clear to me. I am prepared for a re- 
duction of five-and-twenty per cent.; if the corn-laws 
are touched it can't be less than that. My mother 
ought to take it into consideration and reduce her 
jointure accordingly. But I dare say she will not; 
people are so selfish; particularly as she has given 
you this thousand pounds, which in fact after all 
comes out of my pocket.' 

'AH this you have said to me before. What does 



2i8 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



it mean? I fought this battle at the instigation of 
the family, from no feeling of my own. You are the 
head of the family, and you were consulted on the 
step. Unless I had concluded that it was with your 
sanction, I certainly should not have made my appear- 
ance on the hustings.' 

M am glad you did, though,' said Lord Marney; 
'Parliament is a great point for our class; in these 
days especially, more even than in the old time. I 
was truly rejoiced at your success, and it mortified 
the Whigs about us confoundedly. Some people 
thought there was only one family in the world to 
have their Richmond or their Malton. Getting you in 
for the old borough was really a coup.' 

'Well, now to retain our interest,' said Egremont, 
'quick payment of our expenses is the most efficient 
way, beHeve me.' 

'You have got six years, perhaps seven,' said Lord 
Marney, 'and long before that 1 hope to find you the 
husband of Lady Joan Fitz-Warene.' 

'I do not wish to connect the two contingencies,* 
said Egremont firmly. 

'They are inseparable,' said Lord Marney. 

'What do you mean.^' 

'I mean that I think this pedantic acquittance of 
an electioneering account is in the highest degree 
ridiculous, and that 1 cannot interfere in it. The le- 
gal expenses are, you say, paid; and if they were 
not, I should feel myself bound, as the head of the 
family, to defray them, but I can go no further. I 
cannot bring myself to sanction an expenditure for 
certainly unnecessary, perhaps, and 1 much fear it, for 
illegal and immoral purposes.' 

'That really is your determination?' 



SYBIL 



* After the most mature reflection, prompted by a 
sincere solicitude for your benefit.' 

'Well, George, I have often suspected it, but now 
I feel quite persuaded, that you are really the greatest 
humbug that ever existed.' 

'Abuse is not argument, Mr. Egremont.' 

* You are beneath abuse, as you are beneath every 
sentiment but one, which I entirely feel;' and Egre- 
mont rose from the table. 

'You may thank your own obstinacy and conceit,' 
said Lord Marney. 'I took you to Mowbray Castle, 
and the cards were in your own hands if you chose 
to play them.' 

' You have interfered with me once before on such 
a subject. Lord Marney,' said Egremont, with a kin- 
dling eye, and a cheek pallid with rage. 

'You had better not say that again,' said Lord Mar- 
ney, in a tone of menace. 

'Why not?' asked Egremont, fiercely. 'Who and 
what are you to dare to address me thus?' 

' I am your elder brother, sir, whose relationship to 
you is your only claim to the consideration of society.' 

'A curse on the society that has fashioned such 
claims,' said Egremont, in a heightened tone: 'claims 
founded in selfishness, cruelty, and fraud, and leading 
to demorahsation, misery, and crime.' 

'Claims which 1 will make you respect, at least in 
this house, sir,' said Lord Marney, springing from his 
chair. 

'Touch me at your peril!' exclaimed Egremont, 
'and I will forget you are my mother's son, and 
cleave you to the ground. You have been the blight 
of my life; you stole from me my bride, and now 
you would rob me of my honour.' 



120 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



*Liar and villain!' exclaimed Lord Marney, darting 
forward; but at this moment his wife rushed into the 
apartment, and clung to him. 'For Heaven's sake,' she 
exclaimed, 'what is all this? George, Charles, dearest 
George ! ' 

'Let me go, Arabella.' 

'Let him come on.' 

But Lady Marney gave a piercing shriek, and held 
out her arms to keep the brothers apart. A sound 
was heard at the other door; there was nothing in 
the world that Lord Marney dreaded so much as that 
his servants should witness a domestic scene. He 
sprang forward to the door, to prevent any one en- 
tering; partially opening it, he said Lady Marney was 
unwell and desired her maid; returning, he found 
Arabella insensible on the floor, and Egremont van- 
ished! 



CHAPTER XXV. 




The Tommy-Shop. 

T WAS a wet morning; there had 
been a heavy rain since dawn, 
v/hich, impelled by a gusty south- 
wester, came driving on a crowd 
of women and girls who were as- 
sembled before the door of a still 
closed shop. Some protected themselves with umbrellas; 
some sought shelter beneath a row of old elms that 
grew alongside the canal that fronted the house. 
Notwithstanding the weather, the clack of tongues 
was incessant. 

'I thought I saw the wicket of the yard gates 
open,' said a woman. 

*So did I,' said her neighbour, 'but it was shut 
again immediately.' 

'It was only Master Joseph,' said a third. *He 
likes to see us getting wet through.' 

Mf they would only let us into the yard, and get 
under one of the workshop sheds, as they do at 
Simmon's,' said another. 

'You may well say Simmon's, Mrs. Page; I only 
wish my master served in his field.' 

' 1 have been here since half-past four, Mrs. Grigsby, 
with this chilt at my breast all the time. It's three 

(221) 



222 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



miles for me here, and the same back, and unless I 
get the first turn, how are my poor boys to find their 
dinner ready when they come out of the pit?' 

'A very true word, Mrs. Page; and by this token, 
that last Thursday I was here by half-past eleven, 
certainly afore noon, having only called at my mother- 
in-law's in the way, and it was eight o'clock before 
I got home. Ah! it's cruel work, is the tommy- 
shop.' 

'How d'ye do, neighbour Prance?' said a comely 
dame, with a large white basket. ' And how's your 
good man ? They was saying at Belfy's he had 
changed his service. I hear there's a new butty in 
Mr. Parker's field, but the old doggy kept on; so I 
always thought; he was always a favourite, and they 
do say measured the stints very fair. And what do 
you hear bacon is in town? They do tell me only 
sixpence, and real home-cured. 1 wonder Diggs has 
the face to be selling still at ninepence, and so very 
green! I think I see Dame Toddles; how wonderful 
she do wear! What are you doing here, little dear; 
very young to fetch tommy; keeping place for 
mother, eh! that's a good girl; she'd do well to be 
here soon, for I think the strike's on eight. Diggs is 
sticking it on yellow soap very terrible. What do 
you think — Ah! the doors are going to open. No — 
a false alarm.' 

* How fare you, neighbour?' said a pale young 
woman, carrying an infant, to the comely dame. 
'Here's an awful crowd, surely. The women will be 
fighting and tearing to get in, I guess. I be much 
afeard.' 

'Well, "first come, first served," all the world 
over,' said the comely dame. 'And you must put a 



SYBIL 



223 



good heart on the business, and tie your bonnet. I 
dare guess there are not much less than two hundred 
here. It's grand tommy-day, you know. And for 
my part, I don't care so much for a good squeedge; 
one sees so many faces one knows.' 

'The cheese here at sixpence is pretty tidy/ said 
a crone to her companion; * but you may get as good 
in town for fourpence.' 

'What I complaia is the weights,' rephed her 
companion. * I weighed my pound of butter bought 
last tommy-day and it was two penny pieces too 
hght. Indeed! I have been, in my time, to all the 
shops about here, for the lads or their father, but 
never knew tommy so bad as this. I have two 
children at home ill from their flour; I have been 
very poorly myself; one is used to a little white clay, 
but when they lay it on thick, it's very grave.' 

'Are your girls in the pit?' 

'No; we strive to keep them out, and my man 
has gone scores of days on bread and water for that 
purpose; and if we were not forced to take so much 
tommy, one might manage; but tommy will beat any- 
thing. Health first, and honesty afterwards, that's 
my say.' 

'Well, for my part,' said the crone, 'meat's my 
grievance: all the best bits go to the butties, and the 
pieces with bone in are chopped off for the colliers' 
wives.' 

'Dame, when will the door open?' asked a little 
pale-faced boy. ' I have been here all this morn, and 
never broke my fast.' 

'And what do you want, chilt?' 

'I want a loaf for mother; but I don't feel I shall 
ever get home again, I'm all in a way so dizzy.' 



224 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Liza Gray,' said a woman with black beady eyes, 
and a red nose, speaking in a sharp voice, and rush- 
ing up to a pretty slatternly woman in a straw bon- 
net, with a dirty fine ribbon, and a babe at her 
breast; *you know the person I'm looking for.' 

'Well, Mrs. Mulhns, and how do you do?' she 
repHed, in a sweet sawney tone. 

'How do you do, indeed! How are people to do 
in these bad times ?' 

'They is indeed hard, Mrs. Mullins. If you could 
see my tommy-book! How I wish I knew figures! 
Made up as of last Thursday night by that little divil, 
Master Joe Diggs. He has stuck it in here, and stuck 
it in there, till it makes one all of a maze. I'm sure 
I never had the things; and my man is out of all pa- 
tience, and says I can no more keep house than a 
natural born.' 

'My man is a-wanting to see your man,' said Mrs. 
Mullins, with a flashing eye: 'and you know what 
about.' 

'And very natural, too,' said Liza Gray; 'but how 
are we to pay the money we owe him with such a 
tommy-book as this, good neighbour MulHns?' 

'We're as poor as our neighbours, Mrs. Gray; and 
if we are not paid, we must borrow. It's a scarlet 
shame to go to the spout because money lent to a 
friend is not to be found. You had it in your need, 
Liza Gray, and we want it in our need: and have it 
I will, Liza Gray.' 

'Hush, hush!' said Liza Gray; 'don't wake the 
little 'un, for she is very fretful.' 

'I will have the five shillings, or I will have as 
good,' said Mrs. MulHns. 

'Hush, hush, neighbour; now, I'll tell you — you 



SYBIL 



225 



shall have it; but yet a little time. This is great 
tommy-day, and settles our reckoning for five weeks; 
but my man may have a draw after to-morrow, and 
he shall draw five shillings, and give you half.' 

*And the other half.?' said Mrs. Mullins. 

'Ah! the other half,' said Liza Gray with a sigh. 
'Well, then, we shall have a death in our family 
soon: this poor babe can't struggle on much longer. 
It belongs to two burial clubs: that will be three 
pounds from each, and after the drink and the funeral, 
there will be enough to pay all our debts and put us 
all square.' 

The door of Mr. Diggs' tommy-shop opened. The 
rush was like the advance into the pit of a theatre 
when the drama existed; pushing, squeezing, fighting, 
tearing, shrieking. On a high seat, guarded by rails 
from all contact, sat Mr. Diggs, senior, with a bland 
smile on his sanctified countenance, a pen behind his 
ear, and recommending his constrained customers in 
honeyed tones to be patient and orderly. Behind the 
substantial counter, which was an impregnable forti- 
fication, was his popular son. Master Joseph; a short, 
ill-favoured cur, with a spirit of vulgar oppression 
and mahcious mischief stamped on his visage. His 
black, greasy lank hair, his pug nose, his coarse red 
face, and his projecting tusks, contrasted with the 
mild and lengthened countenance of his father, who 
looked very much like a wolf in sheep's clothing. 

For the first five minutes Master Joseph Diggs did 
nothing but blaspheme and swear at his customers, 
occasionally leaning over the counter and cuffing the 
women in the van or lugging some girl by the hair. 

*I was first. Master Joseph,' said a woman, 
eagerly. 

14 B. D.— 15 



226 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



*No; I was/ said another. 

*I was here,' said the first, *as the clock struck 
four, and seated myself on the steps, because I must 
be home early; my husband is hurt in the knee.' 

*If you were first, you shall be helped last,' said 
Master Joseph, *to reward you for your pains;' and 
he began taking the orders of the other women. 

'Oh! Lord have mercy on me!' said the disap- 
pointed woman; 'and I got up in the middle of the 
night for this!' 

'More fool you! And what you came for I am 
sure I don't know,' said Master Joseph; 'for you have 
a pretty long figure against you, I can tell you that.' 

'1 declare most solemnly — ' said the woman. 

'Don't make a brawling here/ said Master Joseph, 
'or I'll jump over this here counter and knock you 
down, Hke nothink. What did you say, woman? are 
you deaf? what did you say? how much best tea do 
you want?* 

'I don't want any, sir.' 

'You never want best tea; you must take three 
ounces of best tea, or you shan't have nothing. If 
you say another word, I'll put you down four. You 
tall gal, what's your name, you keep back there, or 
I'll fetch you such a cut as'll keep you at home till 
next reckoning. Cuss you, you old fool, do you think 
I am to be kept all day while you are mumbling 
here ? Who's pushing on there ? I see you, Mrs. Page. 
Won't there be a black mark against you! Oh! it's 
Mrs. Prance, is it ? Father, put down Mrs. Prance for 
a peck of flour. I'll have order here. You think the 
last bacon a little too fat: oh! you do, ma'am, do you? 
ril take care you shan't complain in future; I likes to 
please my customers. There's a very nice flitch hang- 



SYBIL 



227 



ing up in the engine-room; the men wanted some rust 
for the machinery; you shall have a slice of that; and 
we'll say tenpence a pound, high-dried, and wery lean; 
will that satisfy you? 

* Order there, order; you cussed women, order, or 
ril be among you. And if I just do jump over this 
here counter, won't I let fly right and left! Speak 
out, you idiot! do you think I can hear your mutter- 
ing in this Babel? Cuss them; I'll keep them quiet:' 
and so he took up a yard measure, and, leaning over 
the counter hit right and left. 

'Oh! you little monster!' exclaimed a woman, 'you 
have put aut my babby's eye.' 

There was a murmur; almost a groan. 'Whose 
babby's hurt?' asked Master Joseph, in a softened tone. 

'Mine, sir,' said an indignant voice; 'Mary Church.' 

'Oh! Mary Church, is it!' said the malicious imp; 
'then I'll put Mary Church down for half a pound of 
best arrowroot; that's the finest thing in the world 
for babbies, and will cure you of bringing your cussed 
monkeys here, as if you all thought our shop was an 
hinfant school. 

'Where's your book, Susan Travers? Left at home! 
Then you may go and fetch it. No books, no tom- 
my. You are Jones's wife, are you ? Ticket for three 
and sixpence out of eighteen shillings wages. Is this 
the only ticket you have brought? There's your 
money; and you may tell your husband he need not 
take his coat off again to go down our shaft. He 
must think us cussed fools! Tell him I hope he has 
got plenty of money to travel into Wales, for he 
won't have no work in England again, or my name 
ayn't Diggs. Who's pushing there? I'll be among 
you; I'll close the shop. If I do get hold of some of 



228 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



you cussed women, you shan't forget it. If anybody 
will tell me who is pushing there, they shall have 
their bacon for sevenpence. Will nobody have bacon 
for sevenpence ? Leagued together, eh ? Then every- 
body shall have their bacon for tenpence. Two can 
play at that. Push again, and I'll be among you,' 
said the infuriated little tyrant. But the waving of the 
multitude, impatient, and annoyed by the weather, 
was not to be stilled; the movement could not be 
regulated; the shop was in commotion; and Master 
Joseph Diggs, losing all patience, jumped on the coun- 
ter, and amid the shrieks of the women, sprang into 
the crowd. Two women fainted; others cried for 
their bonnets; others bemoaned their aprons; nothing, 
however, deterred Diggs, who kicked and cuffed and 
cursed in every quarter, and gave none. At last there 
was a general scream of horror, and a cry of 'a boy 
killed!' 

The senior Diggs, who from his eminence had 
hitherto viewed the scene with unruffled complacency; 
who in fact, derived from these not unusual ex- 
hibitions the same agreeable excitement which a 
Roman emperor might have received from the com- 
bats of the circus, began to think that affairs were 
growing serious, and rose to counsel order and en- 
force amiable dispositions. Even Master Joseph was 
quelled by that mild voice, which would have become 
Augustus. It appeared to be quite true that a boy 
was dead. It was the little boy who, sent to get a 
loaf for his mother, had complained before the shop 
was opened of his fainting energies. He had fallen 
in the fray, and it was thought, to use the phrase of 
the comely dame who tried to rescue him, 'that he 
was quite smothered.' 



SYBIL 



229 



They carried him out of the shop; the perspiration 
poured ofT him; he had no pulse. He had no friends 
there. M'll stand by the body,' said the comely dame, 
'though I lose my turn.' 

At this moment, Stephen Morley, for the reader 
has doubtless discovered that the stranger who held 
colloquy with the colliers was the friend of Walter 
Gerard, arrived at the tommy-shop, which was about 
half-way between the house where he had passed the 
night and Wodgate. He stopped, inquired, and being 
a man of science and some skill, decided, after ex- 
amining the poor boy, that life was not extinct. 
Taking the elder Diggs aside, he said, * I am the 
editor of the Mowbray Phalanx; I will not speak to 
you before these people; but I tell you fairly you and 
your son have been represented to me as oppressors 
of the people. Will it be my lot to report this death 
and comment on it ? I trust not. There is yet time 
and hope.' 

'What is to be done, sir?' inquired the alarmed 
Mr. Diggs; *a fellow-creature in this condition — ' 

'Don't talk, but act/ said Morley. 'There is no 
time to be lost. The boy must be taken upstairs and 
put to bed; a warm bed, in one of your best rooms, 
with every comfort. I am pressed for business, but I 
will wait and watch over him till the crisis is passed. 
Come, let you and I take him in our arms, and 
carry him upstairs through your private door. Every 
minute is precious.' And so saying, Morley and the 
elder Diggs entered the house. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 




WODGATE. 

ODGATE, or Wogate, as it was 
called on the map, was a district 
that in old days had been conse- 
crated to Woden, and which ap- 
peared destined through successive 
ages to retain its heathen character. 
At the beginning of the revolutionary war, Wodgate 
was a sort of squatting district of the great mining 
region to which it was contiguous, a place where ad- 
venturers in the industry which was rapidly developing 
settled themselves; for though the great veins of coal 
and ironstone cropped up, as they phrase it, before 
they reached this bare and barren land, and it was thus 
deficient in those mineral and metallic treasures which 
had enriched its neighbourhood, Wodgate had ad- 
vantages of its own, and of a kind which touch the 
fancy of the lawless. It was land without an owner; 
no one claimed any manorial right over it; they could 
build cottages without paying rent. It was a district 
recognised by no parish; so there were no tithes, and 
no meddlesome supervision. It abounded in fuel which 
cost nothing, for though the veins were not worth 
working as a source of mining profit, the soil of 
(230) 



SYBIL 



231 



Wodgate was similar in its superficial character to 
that of the country around. So a population gathered, 
and rapidly increased, in the ugliest spot in England, 
to which neither Nature nor art had contributed a 
single charm; where a tree could not be seen, a 
flower was unknown, where there was neither belfry 
nor steeple, nor a single sight or sound that could 
soften the heart or humanise the mind. 

Whatever mav have been the cause, whether, as 
not unlikely, the original squatters brought with them 
some traditionary skill, or whether their isolated and 
unchequered existence concentrated their energies on 
their craft, the fact is certain, that the inhabitants of 
Wodgate early acquired a celebrity as skilful work- 
men. This reputation so much increased, and in time 
spread so far, that, for more than a quarter of a 
century, both in their skill and the economy of their 
labour, they have been unmatched throughout the 
country. As manufacturers of ironmongery, they 
carry the palm from the whole district; as founders 
of brass and workers of steel, they fear none; while, 
as nailers and locksmiths, their fame has spread even 
to the European markets, whither their most skilful 
workmen have frequently been invited. 

Invited in vain! No wages can tempt the Wod- 
gate man from his native home, that squatters' seat 
which soon assumed the form of a large village, and 
then in turn soon expanded into a town, and at the 
present moment numbers its population by swarming 
thousands, lodged in the most miserable tenements in 
the most hideous burgh in the ugliest country in the 
world. 

But it has its enduring spell. Notwithstanding the 
spread of its civic prosperity, it has lost none of the 



232 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



characteristics of its original society; on the contrary, 
it has zealously preserved them. There are no land- 
lords, head-lessees, main-masters, or butties in Wod- 
gate. No church there has yet raised its spire; and, 
as if the jealous spirit of Woden still haunted his 
ancient temple, even the conventicle scarcely dares 
show its humble front in some obscure corner. There 
is no municipahty, no magistrate; there are no local 
acts, no vestries, no schools of any kind. The 
streets are never cleaned; every man lights his own 
house; nor does any one know anything except his 
business. 

More than this, at Wodgate a factory or large es- 
tablishment of any kind is unknown. Here labour 
reigns supreme. Its division indeed is favoured by 
their manners, but the interference or influence of 
mere capital is instantly resisted. The business of 
Wodgate is carried on by master workmen in their 
own houses, each of whom possesses an unlimited 
number of what they call apprentices, by whom their 
affairs are principally conducted, and whom they treat 
as the Mamlouks treated the Egyptians. 

These master workmen indeed form a powerful 
aristocracy, nor is it possible to conceive one appar- 
ently more oppressive. They are ruthless tyrants; 
they habitually inflict upon their subjects punishments 
more grievous than the slave population of our col- 
onies were ever visited with; not content with beat- 
ing them with sticks or flogging them with knotted 
ropes, they are in the habit of felling them with 
hammers, or cutting their heads open with a file or 
lock. The most usual punishment, however, or rather 
stimulus to increase exertion, is to pull an apprentice's 
ears till they run with blood. These youths, too, are 



SYBIL 



233 



worked for sixteen and even twenty hours a day; 
they are often sold by one master to another; they 
are fed on carrion, and they sleep in lofts or cellars: 
yet, whether it be that they are hardened by brutal- 
ity, and really unconscious of their degradation and 
unusual sufferings, or whether they are supported by 
the belief that their day to be masters and oppressors 
will surely arrive, the aristocracy of Wodgate is by 
no means so unpopular as the aristocracy of most 
other places. 

In the first place, it is a real aristocracy; it is 
privileged, but it does something for its privileges. 
It is distinguished from the main body not merely by 
name. It is the most knowing class at Wodgate; it 
possesses indeed in its way complete knowledge; and 
it imparts in its manner a certain quantity of it to 
those whom it guides. Thus it is an aristocracy that 
leads, and therefore a fact. Moreover, the social 
system of Wodgate is not an unvarying course of in- 
finite toil. Their plan is to work hard, but not al- 
ways. They seldom exceed four days of labour in 
the week. On Sunday the masters begin to drink; 
for the apprentices there is dog-fighting without any 
stint. On Monday and Tuesday the whole population 
of Wodgate is drunk; of all stations, ages, and sexes; 
even babes who should be at the breast; for they are 
drammed with Godfrey's Cordial. Here is relaxation, 
excitement; if less vice otherwise than might be at 
first anticipated, we must remember that excesses are 
checked by poverty of blood and constant exhaustion. 
Scanty food and hard labour are in their way, if not 
exactly moralists, a tolerably good police. 

There are no others at Wodgate to preach or to 
control. It is not that the people are immoral, for 



234 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



immorality implies some forethought; or ignorant, for 
ignorance is relative; but they are animals; uncon- 
scious; their minds a blank; and their worst actions 
only the impulse of a gross or savage instinct. There 
are many in this town who are ignorant of their very 
names; very few who can spell them. It is rare that 
you meet with a young person who knows his own 
age; rarer to find the boy who has seen a book, or 
the girl who has seen a flower. Ask them the name 
of their sovereign, and they will give you an unmean- 
ing stare; ask them the name of their religion, and 
they will laugh: who rules them on earth, or who 
can save them in heaven, are alike mysteries to them. 

Such was the population with whom Morley was 
about to mingle. Wodgate had the appearance of a 
vast squalid suburb. As you advanced, leaving be- 
hind you long lines of little dingy tenements, with 
infants lying about the road, you expected every mo- 
ment to emerge into some streets, and encounter 
buildings bearing some correspondence, in their size 
and comfort, to the considerable population swarming 
and busied around you. Nothing of the kind. There 
were no public buildings of any sort; no churches, 
chapels, town-hall, institute, theatre; and the principal 
streets in the heart of the town in which were situate 
the coarse and grimy shops, though formed by houses 
of a greater elevation than the preceding, were equally 
narrow, and if possible more dirty. At every fourth 
or fifth house, alleys seldom above a yard wide, and 
streaming with filth, opened out of the street. These 
were crowded with dwellings of various size, while 
from the principal court often branched out a number 
of smaller alleys, or rather narrow passages, than 
which nothing can be conceived more close and 



SYBIL 



235 



squalid and obscure. Here, during the days of busi- 
ness, the sound of the hammer and the file never 
ceased, amid gutters of abomination, and piles of foul- 
ness, and stagnant pools of filth; reservoirs of leprosy 
and plague, whose exhalations were sufficient to taint 
the atmosphere of the whole kingdom, and fill the 
country with fever and pestilence. 

A lank and haggard youth, rickety, smoke-dried, 
and black with his craft, was sitting on the threshold 
of a miserable hovel, and working at the file. Be- 
hind him stood a stunted and meagre girl, with a 
back like a grasshopper; a deformity occasioned by 
the displacement of the bladebone, and prevalent 
among the girls of Wodgate from the cramping pos- 
ture of their usual toil. Her long melancholy visage 
and vacant stare at Morley, as he passed, attracted 
his notice, and it occurring to him that the opportu- 
nity was convenient to inquire something of the in- 
dividual of whom he was in search, he stopped and 
addressed the workman. 

'Do you happen to know, friend, a person here 
or hereabouts by name Hatton ? ' 

'Hatton!' said the youth, looking up with a grin, 
yet still continuing his labour, M should think I did!' 

*Well, thafs fortunate; you can tell me something 
about him ? ' 

*Do you see this here?' said the youth, still grin- 
ning, and, letting the file drop from his distorted and 
knotty hand, he pointed to a deep scar that crossed 
his forehead: 'he did that.' 

'An accident?' 

'Very like. An accident that often happened. I 
should like to have a crown for every time he has 
cut my head open. He cut it open once with a key. 



236 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



and twice with a lock; he knocked the corner of a 
lock into my head twice, once with a bolt, and once 
with a shut; you know what that is; the thing what 
runs into the staple. He hit me on the head with a 
hammer once. That was a blow! I fell away that 
time. When I came to, master had stopped the 
blood with some fur off his hat. I had to go on 
with my work immediately; master said I should do 
my stint if I worked till twelve o'clock at night. 
Many's the ash stick he has broken on my body; 
sometimes the weals remained on me for a week; he 
cut my eyehd open once with a nutstick; cut a reg- 
ular hole in it, and it bled all over the files I was 
working at. He has pulled my ears sometimes that 
I thought they must come off in his hand. But all 
this was a mere nothin' tb this here cut; that was 
serous; and if I hadn't got thro' that, they do say 
there must have been a crowner's quest; though I 
think that gammon, for old Tugsford did for one 
of his prentices, and the body was never found. 
And now you ask me if I know Hatton? I should 
think 1 did!' And the lank, haggard youth laughed 
merrily, as if he had been recounting a series of the 
happiest adventures. 

* But is there no redress for such iniquitous op- 
pression?' said Morley, who had listened with aston- 
ishment to this complacent statement. 'Is there no 
magistrate to apply to?' 

*No, no,' said the filer, with an air of obvious 
pride; 'we don't have no magistrates at Wodgate. 
We've got a constable, and there was a prentice, 
who, coz his master laid it on only with a seat rod, 
went over to Ramborough and got a warrant. He 
fetched the summons himself, and giv it to the con- 



SYBIL 



237 



stable, but he never served it. That's why they has 
a constable here.' 

*I am sorry,' said Morley, 'that I have affairs with 
such a wretch as this Hatton.' 

'You'll find him a wery hearty sort of man,' said 
the filer, ' if he don't hap to be in drink. He's a ht- 
tle robustious then, but take him all in all for a mas- 
ter, you may go further and fare worse.' 

'What! this monster!' 

'Lord bless you! it's his way, that's all; we be a 
queer set here; but he has his pints. Give him a 
lock to make, and you won't have your box picked; 
he's wery lib'ral too in the wittals. Never had horse- 
flesh the whole time I was with him; they has 
nothin' else at Tugsford's; never had no sick cow 
except when meat was very dear. He always put 
his face agin still-born calves; he used to say he 
liked his boys to have meat that was born alive, 
and killed alive. By which token there never was 
any sheep which had bust in the head sold in our 
court. And then sometimes he would give us a treat 
of fish, when it had been four or five days in town, 
and not sold. No, give the devil his due, say I. 
There never was no want for anything at meals with 
the Bishop, except time to eat them in.' 

*And why do you call him the Bishop?' 

'That's his name and authority; for he's the gov- 
ernor here over all of us. And it has always been so 
that Wodgate has been governed by a bishop; be- 
cause, as we have no church, we will have as good. 
And by this token that this day se'nnight, the day 
my time was up, he married me to this here young 
lady. She is of the Baptist school religion, and 
wanted us to be tied by her clergyman, but all the 



238 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



lads that served their time with me were married by 
the Bishop, and many a more, and I saw no call to 
do no otherwise. So he sprinkled salt over a grid- 
iron, read ''Our Father" backwards, and wrote our 
name in a book: and we were spliced; but I didn't 
do it rashly, did I, Suky, by the token that we had 
kept company for two years, and there isn't a gal in 
all Wodgate what handles a file like Sue.' 

'And what is your name, my good fellow?' 

' They call me Tummas, but I ayn't got no second 
name; but now I am married I mean to take my 
wife's, for she has been baptised, and so has got 
two.' 

'Yes, sir,' said the girl with the vacant face and 
the back like a grasshopper; 'I be a reg'lar born 
Christian and my mother afore me, and that's what 
few gals in the Yard can say. Thomas will take to 
it himself when work is slack; and he believes now 
in our Lord and Saviour Pontius Pilate, who was cru- 
cified to save our sins; and in Moses, Goliath, and 
the rest of the Apostles.' 

'Ah! me,' thought Morley, 'and could not they 
spare one missionary from Tahiti for their fellow coun- 
trymen at Wodgate!' 



CHAPTER XXVII. 




Gerard's New Neighbour. 

HE summer twilight had faded into 
sweet night; the young and star- 
attended moon glittered like a 
sickle in the deep purple sky; of 
all the luminous host Hesperus 
alone was visible; and a breeze, 
that bore the last embrace of the flowers by the 
sun, moved languidly and fitfully over the still and 
odorous earth. 

The moonbeam fell upon the roof and garden of 
Gerard. It suffused the cottage with its brilliant light, 
except where the dark depth of the embowered porch 
defied its entry. All around the beds of flowers and 
herbs spread sparkling and defined. You could trace 
the minutest walk; almost distinguish every leaf. 
Now and then there came a breath, and the sweet- 
peas murmured in their sleep; or the roses rustled, 
as if they were afraid they were about to be roused 
from their lightsome dreams. Farther on the fruit 
trees caught the splendour of the night; and looked 
like a troop of sultanas taking their garden air, when 
the eye of man could not profane them, and laden 
with jewels. There were apples that rivalled rubies; 

(239) 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



pears of topaz tint; a whole paraphernalia of plums, 
some purple as the amethyst, others blue and brilliant 
as the sapphire; an emerald here, and now a golden 
drop that gleamed like the yellow diamond of Gengis 
Khan. 

Within, was the scene less fair? A single lamp 
shed over the chamber a soft and sufficient light. 
The library of Stephen Morley had been removed, but 
the place of his volumes had been partly supplied, for 
the shelves were far from being empty. Their con- 
tents were of no ordinary character: many volumes of 
devotion, some of Church history, one or two on ec- 
clesiastical art, several works of our elder dramatists, 
some good reprints of our chronicles, and many folios 
of Church music, which last indeed amounted to a re- 
markable collection. There was no musical instrument 
of any kind, however, in the room, and the only 
change in its furniture, since we last visited the room 
of Gerard, was the presence of a long-backed chair of 
antique form, beautifully embroidered, and a portrait 
of a female saint over the mantel-piece. As for Gerard 
himself, he sat with his head leaning on his arm, 
which rested on the table, while he listened with 
great interest to a book which was read to him by 
his daughter, at whose feet lay the fiery and faithful 
bloodhound. 

*So you see, my father,' said Sybil with anima- 
tion, and dropping her book, which, however, her 
hand did not relinquish, 'even then all was not lost. 
The stout earl retired beyond the Trent, and years 
and reigns elapsed before this part of the island ac- 
cepted their laws and customs.' 

'I see,' said her father, 'and yet I cannot help 
wishing that Harold ' Here the hound, hearing 



SYBIL 



24 £ 



his name, suddenly rose and looked at Gerard, who, 
smiling, patted him and said, 'We were not talking 
of thee, good sir, but of thy great namesake; but 
ne'er mind, a live dog they say is worth a dead 
king.' 

'Ah! why have we not such a man now,' said 
Sybil, 'to protect the people? Were I a prince I know 
no career that 1 should deem so great.' 

'But Stephen says no,' said Gerard: 'he says that 
these great rnen have never made use of us but as 
tools; and that the people never can have their rights 
until they produce competent champions from their 
own order.' 

'But then Stephen does not want to recall the 
past,' said Sybil with a kind of sigh; 'he wishes to 
create the future.' 

'The past is a dream,' said Gerard. 

'And what is the future?' inquired Sybil. 

'Alack! I know not; but I often wish the battle 
of Hastings were to be fought over again, and I was 
going to have a hand in it.' 

'Ah! my father,' said Sybil with a mournful smile, 
'there is ever your fatal specific of physical force. 
Even Stephen is against physical force, with all his 
odd fancies.' 

'All very true,' said Gerard, smihng with good 
nature; 'but all the same when I was coming home 
a few days ago, and stopped awhile on the bridge 
and chanced to see myself in the stream, I could not 
help fancying that my Maker had fashioned these 
limbs rather to hold a lance or draw a bow than to 
supervise a shuttle or a spindle.' 

'Yet with the shuttle and the spindle we may re- 
deem our race,' said Sybil with animation, 'if we 

14 B. D.— 16 



242 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



could only form the minds that move those peaceful 
weapons. Oh! my father, I will believe that moral 
power is irresistible, or where are we to look for 
hope?' 

Gerard shook his head with his habitual sweet 
good-tempered smile. 'Ah!' said he, 'what can we 
do ? They have got the land, and the land governs the 
people. The Norman knew that, Sybil, as you just 
read. If indeed we had our rights, one might do 
something; but 1 don't know; I dare say if I had our 
land again, I should be as bad as the rest.' 

'Oh! no, my father,' exclaimed Sybil with energy, 
'never, never! Your thoughts would be as princely 
as your lot. What a leader of the people you would 
make! ' 

Harold sprang up suddenly and growled. 

'Hush!' said Gerard; 'some one knocks:' and he 
rose and left the room. Sybil heard voices and 
broken sentences: 'You'll excuse me:' 'I take it 
kindly:' 'So we are neighbours.' And then her 
father returned, ushering in a person, and saying, 
' Here is my friend Mr. Franklin, that I was speaking 
of, Sybil, who is going to be our neighbour; down, 
Harold, down!' and he presented to his daughter the 
companion of Mr. St. Lys in that visit to the hand- 
loom weaver when she had herself met the vicar of 
Mowbray. 

Sybil rose, and letting her book drop gently on 
the table, received Egremont with composure and 
native grace. It is civilisation that makes us awk- 
ward, for it gives us an uncertain position. Perplexed, 
we take refuge in pretence; and embarrassed, we 
seek a resource in affectation. The Bedouin and the 
red Indian never lose their presence of mind; and 



SYBIL 



243 



the wife of a peasant, when you enter her cottage, 
often greets you with a propriety of mien which fa- 
vourably contrasts with your reception by some grand 
dame in some grand assembly, meeting her guests 
alternately with a caricature of courtesy or an exag- 
geration of supercilious self-control. 

'I dare say,' said Egremont, bowing to Sybil, 
*you have seen our poor friend the weaver since we 
met there.' 

'The day I quitted Mowbray,' said Sybil. 'They 
are not without friends.' 

'Ah! you have met my daughter before.' 

'On a mission of grace,' said Egremont. 

'And I suppose you found the town not very 
pleasant, Mr. Franklin,' returned Gerard. 

'No; 1 could not stand it, the nights were so 
close. Besides, I have a great accumulation of notes, 
and I fancied I could reduce them into a report more 
efficiently in comparative seclusion. So I have got a 
room near here, with a little garden, not so pretty as 
yours; but still a garden is something; and if I want 
any additional information, why, after all, Mowbray 
is only a walk.' 

'You say well, and have done wisely. Besides, 
you have such late hours in London, and hard work. 
Some country air will do you all the good in the 
world. That gallery must be tiresome. Do you use 
shorthand ? ' 

'A sort of shorthand of my own,' said Egremont. 
'I trust a good deal to my memory.' 

'Ah! you are young. My daughter also has a 
wonderful memory. For my own part, there are many 
things which I am not sorry to forget.' 

'You see I took you at your word, neighbour,' 



244 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



said Egremont. ' When one has been at work the 
whole day one feels a little lonely towards night.' 

'Very true; and I dare say you find desk work 
sometimes dull; I never could make anything of it my- 
self. I can manage a book well enough, if it be well 
written, and on points 1 care for; but I would sooner 
listen than read any time,' said Gerard. 'Indeed, I 
should be right glad to see the minstrel and the story- 
teller going their rounds again. It would be easy after 
a day's work, when one has not, as I have now, a 
good child to read to me.' 

'This volume?' said Egremont, drawing his chair 
to the table, and looking at Sybil, who intimated as- 
sent by a nod. 

'Ah! it's a fine book,' said Gerard, 'though on a 
sad subject.* 

'The History of the Conquest of England by the 
Normans,' said Egremont, reading the title page, on 
which also was written, ' Ursula Trafiford to Sybil 
Gerard.' 

'You know it?' said Sybil. 

'Only by fame.' 

' Perhaps the subject may not interest you so much 
as it does us,' said Sybil. 

'It must interest all, and all alike,' said her father; 
'for we are divided between the conquerors and the 
conquered.' 

'But do not you think,' said Egremont, 'that such 
a distinction has long ceased to exist ? ' 

' In what degree ? ' asked Gerard. ' Many circum- 
stances of oppression have doubtless gradually disap- 
peared; but that has arisen from the change of manners, 
not from any political recognition of their injus- 
tice. The same course of time which has removed 



SYBIL 



245 



many enormities, more shocking, however, to our 
modern feelings than to those who devised and en- 
dured them, has simultaneously removed many alle- 
viating circumstances. If the mere baron's grasp be 
not so ruthless, the champion we found in the Church 
is no longer so ready. The spirit of conquest has 
adapted itself to the changing circumstances of ages, 
and, however its results vary in form, in degree they 
are much the same.' 

'But how do they show themselves?' 

'In many circumstances, which concern many 
classes; but I speak of those which touch my own 
order; and therefore I say at once, in the degradation 
of the people.' 

*But are the people so degraded?' 

'There is more serfdom in England now than at 
any time since the Conquest. 1 speak of what passes 
under my eyes daily when I say that those who 
labour can as little choose or change their masters 
now as when they were born thralls. There are great 
bodies of the working classes of this country nearer 
the condition of brutes than they have been at any 
time since the Conquest. Indeed, I see nothing to 
distinguish them from brutes, except that their morals 
are inferior. Incest and infanticide are as common 
among them as among the lower animals. The do- 
mestic principle wanes weaker and weaker every 
year in England; nor can we wonder at it, when 
there is no comfort to cheer and no sentiment to 
hallow the home.' 

*I was reading a work the other day,' said Egre- 
mont, 'that statistically proved that the general condi- 
tion of the people was much better at this moment 
than it had been at any known period of history.' 



246 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Ah! yes, I know that style of speculation,' said 
Gerard; 'your gentleman who reminds you that a 
working man now has a pair of cotton stockings, and 
that Harry the Eighth himself was not as well off. 
At any rate, the condition of classes must be judged 
of by the age, and by their relation with each other. 
One need not dwell on that. I deny the premises. 
I deny that the condition of the main body is better 
now than at any other period of our history; that it 
is as good as it has been at several. I say, for in- 
stance, the people were better clothed, better lodged, 
and better fed just before the War of the Roses than 
they are at this moment. We know how an English 
peasant lived in those times: he ate flesh every day, 
he never drank water, was well housed, and clothed 
in stout woollens. Nor are the Chronicles necessary 
to tell us this. The Acts of Parliament, from the Plan- 
tagenets to the Tudors, teach us alike the price of 
provisions and the rate of wages; and we see in a 
moment that the wages of those days brought as 
much sustenance and comfort as a reasonable man 
could desire.' 

'I know how deeply you feel upon this subject,' 
said Egremont, turning to Sybil. 

* Indeed it is the only subject that ever engages 
my thought,' she replied, 'except one.' 

'And that one?' 

'Is to see the people once more kneel before our 
blessed Lady,' replied Sybil. 

'Look at the average term of life,' said Gerard, 
coming unintentionally to the relief of Egremont, who 
was a little embarrassed. 'The average term of life 
in this district among the working classes is seventeen. 
What think you of that? Of the infants born in 



SYBIL 



247 



Mowbray, more than a moiety die before the age of 
five.' 

'And yet,' said Egremont, 'in old days they had 
terrible pestilences.' 

'But they touched all ahke,' said Gerard. *We 
have more pestilence now in England than we ever 
had, but it only reaches the poor. You never hear 
of it. Why, typhus alone takes every year from the 
dwellings of the artisan and peasant a population equal 
to that of the whole county of Westmoreland. This 
goes on every year, but the representatives of the 
conquerors are not touched; it is the descendants of 
the conquered alone who are the victims.' 

It sometimes seems to me,' said Sybil despond- 
ingly, 'that nothing short of the descent of angels 
can save the people of this kingdom.' 

'I sometimes think I hear a little bird,' said Ger- 
ard, 'who sings that the long frost may yet break 
up. I have a friend, him of whom I was speaking 
to you the other day, who has his remedies.' 

'But Stephen Morley does not believe in angels,' 
said Sybil with a sigh; 'and I have no faith in his 
plan.' 

'He believes that God will help those who help 
themselves,' said Gerard. 

'And I believe,' said Sybil, 'that those only can 
help themselves whom God helps.' 

All this time Egremont was sitting at the table, 
with a book in his hand, gazing fitfully and occa- 
sionally with an air of absence on its title page, 
whereon was written the name of its owner. Sud- 
denly he said 'Sybil.' 

'Yes,' said the daughter of Gerard, with an air of 
some astonishment. 



248 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



M beg your pardon,' said Egremont blushing; M 
was reading your name. I thought I was reading it 
to myself. Sybil Gerard! What a beautiful name is 
Sybil!' 

*My mother's name,' said Gerard; *and my gran- 
dame's name, and a name, I beheve, that has been 
about- our hearth as long as our race; and that's a 
very long time indeed,' he added, smiling, 'for we 
were tall men in King John's reign, as I have heard 
say.' 

'Yours is indeed an old family.' 

'Ay, we have some English blood in our veins, 
though peasants and the sons of peasants. But there 
was one of us who drew a bow at Azincourt; and I 
have heard greater things, but I believe they are old 
wives' tales.' 

'At least we have nothing left,' said Sybil, 'but 
our old faith; and that we have clung to through 
good report and evil report.' 

'And now,' said Gerard, 'I rise with the lark, 
good neighbour Franklin; but before you go, Sybil 
will sing to us a requiem that 1 love: it stills the 
spirit before we sink into the slumber which may this 
night be death, and which one day must be.' 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 




A Morning Stroll. 

BLOOM was spread over the morn- 
ing sky. A soft golden light bathed 
with its fresh beam the bosom of 
the valley, except where a deli- 
cate haze, rather than a mist, still 
partially hngered over the river, 
which yet occasionally gleamed and sparkled in the 
sunshine. A sort of shadowy lustre suffused the 
landscape, which, though distinct, was mitigated in 
all its features: the distant woods, the clumps of tall 
trees that rose about the old grey bridge, the cottage 
chimneys that sent their smoke into the blue still air, 
amid their clustering orchards and gardens of flowers 
and herbs. 

Ah! what is there so fresh and joyous as a sum- 
mer morn! that spring-time of the day, when the 
brain is bright, and the heart is brave; the season of 
daring and of hope; the renovating hour! 

Forth from his cottage room came the brother of 
Lord Marney, to feel the vigorous bliss of life amid 
sunshiny gardens and the voices of bees and birds. 

'Ah! this is dehcious!' he felt. 'This is existence! 
Thank God 1 am here; that I have quitted for ever 

( 249 ) 



250 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



that formal and heartless Marney. Were it not for 
my mother I would remain Mr. Franklin for ever. 
Would I were indeed a journalist, provided I always 
had a mission to the vale of Mowbray. Or anything, so 
that I were ever here. As companions, independently 
of everything else, they are superior to any that I 
have been used to. Why do these persons interest 
me? They feel and they think: two habits that have 
quite gone out of fashion, if ever they existed, among 
my friends. And that polish of manners, that studied 
and factitious refinement, which is to compensate for 
the heartlessness or the stupidity we are doomed 
to; is my host of last night deficient in that refine- 
ment ? If he do want our conventional discipline, he 
has a native breeding which far excels it. I observe 
no word or action which is not prompted by that 
fine feeling which is the sure source of good taste. 
This Gerard appears to me a real genuine man; full 
of knowledge worked out by his own head; with 
large yet wholesome sympathies; and a deuced deal 
better educated than Lord de Mowbray or my brother; 
and they do occasionally turn over a book, which is 
not the habit of our set. 

*And his daughter; ay, his daughter! There is 
something almost sublime about that young girl, yet 
strangely sweet withal; a tone so lofty combined with 
such simplicity is very rare. For there is no affec- 
tation of enthusiasm about her; nothing exaggerated, 
nothing rhapsodical. Her dark eyes and lustrous face, 
and the solemn sweetness of her thrilling voice, they 
haunt me; they have haunted me from the first mo- 
ment I encountered her like a spirit amid the ruins of 
our Abbey. And I am one of *'the family of sacri- 
lege." If she knew that! And I am one of the con- 



SYBIL 



251 



quering class she denounces. If also she knew that! 
Ah! there is much to know! Above all, the future. 
Away! the tree of knowledge is the tree of death. I 
will have no thought that is not as bright and lovely 
as this morn.' 

He went forth from his little garden, and strolled 
along the road in the direction of the cottage of 
Gerard, which was about three quarters of a mile 
distant. You might see almost as far; the sunshiny 
road a little winding and rising a very slight ascent. 
The cottage itself was hid by its trees. While Egre- 
mont was still musing of one who lived under that 
roof, he beheld in the distance Sybil. 

She was springing along with a quick and airy 
step. Her black dress displayed her undulating and 
elastic figure. Her little foot bounded from the earth 
with a merry air. A long rosary hung at her side; 
and her head was partly covered with a hood which 
descended just over her shoulders. She seemed gay, 
for Harold kept running before her with a frolic- 
some air, and then, returning to his mistress, danced 
about her, and almost overpowered her with his 
gambols. 

'1 salute thee, holy sister,' said Egremont. 

*0h! is not this a merry morn?' she exclaimed, 
with a bright and happy face. 

* 1 feel it as you. And whither do you go ? ' 

'1 go to the convent; I pay my first visit to our 
Superior since I left them.' 

''Not very long ago,' said Egremont, with a smile, 
and turning with her. 

*It seems so,' said Sybil. 

They walked on together; Sybil, glad as the hour, 
noticing a thousand cheerful sights, speaking to her 



2 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



dog in her ringing voice, as he gambolled before 
them, or seized her garments in his mouth, and ever 
and anon bounded away and then returned, looking 
up in his mistress's face to inquire whether he had 
been wanted in his absence. 

'What a pity it is that your father's way each 
morning lies up the valley,' said Egremont; 'he would 
be your companion to Mowbray.' 

*Ah! but 1 am so happy that he has not to work 
in a town,' said Sybil. 'He is not made to be cooped 
up in a hot factory in a smoky street. At least he 
labours among the woods and waters. And the 
Traffords are such good people! So kind to him and 
to all.' 

'You love your father very much.' 

She looked at him a little surprised; and then her 
sweet serious face broke into a smile, and she said, 
'And is that strange?' 

'I think not,' said Egremont; 'I am inchned to 
love him myself.' 

'Ah! you win my heart,' said Sybil, 'when you 
praise him. I think that is the real reason why I 
like Stephen; for otherwise he is always saying some- 
thing with which 1 cannot agree, which I disapprove; 
and yet he is so good to my father!' 

'You speak of Mr. Morley — ' 

'Oh! we don't call him "Mr.,"' said Sybil, slightly 
laughing. 

'I mean Stephen Morley,' said Egremont, recalling 
his position, 'whom I met in Marney Abbey. He is 
very clever, is he not?' 

'He is a great writer and a great student; and 
what he is he has made himself. I hear, too, that 
you follow the same pursuit,' said Sybil. 



SYBIL 



253 



'But I am not a great writer or a great student,' 
said Egremont. 

'Whatever you be, I trust,' said Sybil, in a more 
serious tone, 'that you will never employ the talents 
that God has given you against the people.' 

'I have come here to learn something of their 
condition,' said Egremont. 'That is not to be done 
in a great city like London. We all of us live too 
much in a circle. You will assist me, I am sure,' 
added Egremont; 'your spirit will animate me. You 
told me last night that there was no other subject, 
except one, which ever occupied your thoughts.' 

'Yes,' said Sybil, '1 have lived under two roofs, 
only two roofs; and each has given me a great idea; 
the convent and the cottage. One has taught me 
the degradation of my faith, the other of my race. 
You should not wonder, therefore, that my heart is 
concentrated on the Church and the people.' 

'But there are other ideas,' said Egremont, 'that 
might equally be entitled to your thought.' 

'I feel these are enough,' said Sybil; 'too great, as 
it is, for my brain.' 



CHAPTER XXIX. 




The Bishop of Wodgate. 

T THE end of a court in Wodgate, 
of rather larger dimensions than 
usual in that town, was a high 
and many-windowed house, of 
several stories in height, which 
had been added to it at intervals. It 
was in a most dilapidated state; the principal part 
occupied as a nail-workshop, where a great number 
of heavy iron machines were working in every room 
on each floor; the building itself in so shattered a 
condition that every part of it creaked and vibrated 
with their motion. The flooring was so broken that 
in many places one could look down through the 
gaping and rotten planks, while the upper floors 
from time to time had been shored up with props. 

This was the palace of the Bishop of \Vodgate, 
and here, with his arms bare and black, he worked 
at those locks which defied any skeleton key that 
was not made by himself. He was a short, thickset 
man, powerfully made, with brawny arms dispropor- 
tionately short even for his height, and with a coun- 
tenance, as far as one could judge of a face so 
disfigured by grimy toil, rather brutal than savage. 
(354) 



SYBIL 



His choice apprentices, full of admiration and terror, 
worked about him; lank and haggard youths, who 
never for an instant dared to raise their dingy faces 
and lack-lustre eyes from their ceaseless labour. ' On 
each side of their master, seated on a stool higher 
than the rest, was an urchin of not more than four 
or five years of age, serious and demure, and as if 
proud of his eminent position, and working inces- 
santly at his little file: these were two sons of the 
bishop. 

'Now, boys,' said the bishop, in a hoarse, harsh 
voice, * steady, there; steady. There's a file what 
don't sing; can't deceive my ear; I know all their 
voices. Don't let me find that 'un out, or I won't 
walk into him, won't 1 ? Ayn't you lucky, boys, to 
have reg'lar work like this, and the best of prog! It 
worn't my lot, I can tell you that. Give me that 
shut, you there, Scrubbynose, can't you move? Look 
sharp, or 1 won't move you, won't I? Steady, steady! 
All right! That's music. Where will you hear music 
Hke twenty files all working at once! You ought to 
be happy, boys, oughtn't you? Won't there be a 
treat of fish after this, that's all! Hulloa, there, you 
red-haired varmint, what are you looking after ? Three 
boys looking about them; what's all this? won't I 
be among you?' and he sprang forward and seized 
the luckless ears of the first apprentice he could 
get hold of, and wrung them till the blood spouted 
forth. 

* Please, bishop,' sang out the boy, 'it worn't my 
fault. Here's a man what wants you.' 

* Who wants me?' said the bishop, looking round, 
and he caught the figure of Morley, who had just 
entered the shop. 



256 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Well, what's your will? Locks or nails?' 

'Neither,' said Morley; M wish to see a man 
named Hatton.' 

'Well, you see a man named Hatton,' said the 
bishop; 'and now what do you want of him?' 

'I should like to say a word to you alone,' said 
Morley. 

'Hem! I should like to know who is to finish this 
lock, and look after my boys! If it's an order, let's 
have it at once.' 

*It is not an order,' said Morley. 

'Then I don't want to hear nothing about it,' 
said the bishop. 

'It's about family matters,' said Morley. 

'Ah!' said Hatton, eagerly, 'what, do you come 
from him ? ' 

'It may be,' said Morley. 

Upon this the bishop, looking up to the ceiling of 
the room in which there were several large chinks, 
began calling out lustily to some unseen person 
above, and immediately was replied to in a shrill 
voice of objurgation, demanding in peremptory words, 
interlarded with many oaths, what he wanted. His 
reply called down his unseen correspondent, who 
soon entered his workshop. It was the awful pres- 
ence of Mrs. Hatton; a tall bearded virago, with a 
file in her hand, for that seemed the distinctive arm 
of the house, and eyes flashing with unbridled power. 

'Look after the boys,' said Hatton, 'for I have 
business.' 

' Won't I ? ' said Mrs. Hatton ; and a thrill of terror 
pervaded the assembly. All the files moved in regu- 
lar melody; no one dared to raise his face; even her 
two young children looked still more serious and de- 



SYBIL 



257 



mure. Not that any being present flattered himself 
for an instant that the most sedulous attention on his 
part could prevent an outbreak; all that each aspired 
to, and wildly hoped, was that he might not be the 
victim singled out to have his head cut open, or his 
eye knocked out, or his ears half pulled off by 
the being who v/as the terror not only of the work- 
shop, but of Wodgate itself; their bishop's gentle 
wife. 

In the meantime, that worthy, taking Morley into 
a room where there were no machines at work ex- 
cept those made of iron, said, ' Well, what have you 
brought me ? ' 

Mn the first place,' said Morley, 'I would speak 
to you of your brother.' 

'I concluded that,' said Hatton, 'when you spoke 
of family matters bringing you here; he is the only 
relation I have in this world, and therefore it must 
be of him.' 

Mt is of him,' said Morley. 

'Has he sent anything?' 

'Hem!' said Morley, who was by nature a diplo- 
matist, and instantly comprehended his position, be- 
ing himself pumped when he came to pump; but he 
resolved not to precipitate the affair. ' How late is it 
since you heard from him ? ' he asked. 

'Why, I suppose you know,' said Hatton; 'I 
heard as usual.' 

' From his usual place ? ' inquired Morley. 

'I wish you would tell me where that is,' said 
Hatton, eagerly. 

'Why, he writes to you?' 

'Blank letters; never had a line except once, and 
that is more than twelve year ago. He sends me a 

14 B. D.— 17 



258 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



twenty-pound note every Christmas; and that is all I 
know about him.' 

'Then he is rich, and well to do in the world?' 
said Morley. 

* Why, don't you know?' said Hatton; M thought 
you came from him!' 

'I came about him. I wished to know whether 
he were alive, and that you have been able to inform 
me: and where he was; and that you have not been 
able to inform me.' 

*Why, you're a regular muff!' said the bishop. 



CHAPTER XXX. 




Another View of the People. 

FEW days after his morning walk 
with Sybil, it was agreed that Egre- 
mont should visit Mr. Trafford's 
factory, which he had expressed 
a great desire to inspect. Gerard 
always left his cottage at break of 
dawn, and as Sybil had not yet paid her accustomed 
visit to her friend and patron, who was the employer 
of her father, it was arranged that Egremont should 
accompany her at a later and more convenient hour 
in the morning, and then that they should all return 
together. 

The factory was about a mile distant from their 
cottage, which belonged indeed to Mr. Trafiford, and 
had been built by him. He was the younger son of 
a family that had for centuries been planted in the 
land, but who, not satisfied with the factitious con- 
sideration with which society compensates the junior 
members of a territorial house for their entailed pov- 
erty, had availed himself of some opportunities that 
offered themselves, and had devoted his energies to 
those new sources of wealth that were unknown to 
his ancestors. His operations at first had been ex- 

(259) 



26o BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



tremely limited, like his fortunes; but with a small 
capital, though his profits were not considerable, he 
at least gained experience. With gentle blood in his 
veins, and old English feelings, he imbibed, at an 
early period of his career, a correct conception of the 
relations which should subsist between the employer 
and the employed. He felt that between them there 
should be other ties than the payment and the receipt 
of wages. 

A distant and childless relative, who made him a 
visit, pleased with his energy and enterprise, and 
touched by the development of his social views, left 
him a considerable sum, at a moment, too, when a 
great opening was offered to manufacturing capital 
and skill. Trafford, schooled in rigid fortunes, and 
formed by struggle, if not by adversity, was ripe for 
the occasion, and equal to it. He became very opu- 
lent, and he lost no time in carrying into life and 
being the plans which he had brooded over in the 
years when his good thoughts were limited to dreams. 
On the banks of his native Mowe he had built a 
factory, which was now one of the marvels of the 
district; one might almost say, of the country: a 
single room, spreading over nearly two acres, and 
holding more than two thousand workpeople. The 
roof of groined arches, lighted by ventilating domes 
at the height of eighteen feet, was supported by hol- 
low cast-iron columns, through which the drainage 
of the roof was effected. The height of the ordinary 
rooms in which the workpeople in manufactories are 
engaged, is not more than from nine to eleven feet; 
and these are built in stories, the heat and effluvia of 
the lower rooms communicated to those above, and 
the difficulty of ventilation insurmountable. At Mr. 



SYBIL 



261 



Trafford's, by an ingenious process, not unlike that 
which is practised in the House of Commons, the 
ventilation was also carried on from below, so that 
the whole building was kept at a steady temperature, 
and little susceptible to atmospheric influence. The 
physical advantages of thus carrying on the whole 
work in one chamber are great: in the improved 
health of the people, the security against dangerous 
accidents to women and youth, and the reduced 
fatigue resulting from not having to ascend and de- 
scend, and carry materials to the higher rooms. But 
the moral advantages resulting from superior inspec- 
tion and general observation are not less important: 
the child works under the eye of the parent, the 
parent under that of the superior workman; the in- 
spector or employer at a glance can behold all. 

When the workpeople of Mr. Trafford left his 
factory they were not forgotten. Deeply had he 
pondered on the influence of the employer on the 
health and content of his workpeople. He knew well 
that the domestic virtues are dependent on the exist- 
ence of a home, and one of his first efforts had been 
to build a village where every family might be well 
lodged. Though he was the principal proprietor, and 
proud of that character, he nevertheless encouraged 
his workmen to purchase the fee: there were some 
who had saved sufficient money to effect this; proud 
of their house and their little garden, and of the 
horticultural society, where its produce permitted them 
to be annual competitors. In every street there was 
a well: behind the factory were the public baths; the 
schools were under the direction of the perpetual 
curate of the church, which Mr. Trafford, though a 
Roman Catholic, had raised and endowed. In the 



262 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



midst of this village, surrounded by beautiful gardens, 
which gave an impulse to the horticulture of the 
community, was the house of Trafford himself, who 
comprehended his position too well to withdraw him- 
self with vulgar exclusiveness from his real dependents, 
but recognised the baronial principle, reviving in a 
new form, and adapted to the softer manners and 
more ingenious circumstances of the times. 

And what was the influence of such an employer 
and such a system of employment on the morals and 
manners of the employed? Great; infinitely beneficial. 
The connection of a labourer with his place of work, 
whether agricultural or manufacturing, is itself a vast 
advantage. Proximity to the employer brings cleanli- 
ness and order, because it brings observation and 
encouragement. In the settlement of Trafford crime 
was positively unknown, and offences were slight. 
There was not a single person in the village of a 
reprobate character. The men were well clad; the 
women had a blooming cheek; drunkenness was un- 
known; while the moral condition of the softer sex 
was proportionately elevated. 

The vast form of the spreading factory, the roofs 
and gardens of the village, the Tudor chimneys of the 
house of Trafford, the spire of the gothic church, with 
the sparkling river and the sylvan background, came 
rather suddenly on the sight of Egremont. They were 
indeed in the pretty village street before he was aware 
he was about to enter it. Some beautiful children 
rushed out of a cottage and flew to Sybil, crying 
out, 'the queen, the queen;' one clinging to her 
dress, another seizing her arm, and a third, too 
small to struggle, pouting out its lips to be em- 
braced. 



SYBIL 



263 



'My subjects,' said Sybil laughing, as she greeted 
them all; and then they ran away to announce to 
others that their queen had arrived. 

Others came; beautiful and young. As Sybil and 
Egremont walked along, the race too tender for la- 
bour seemed to spring out of every cottage to greet 
their 'queen.' Her visits had been rare of late, but 
they were never forgotten ; they formed epochs in the 
village annals of the children, some of whom knew 
only by tradition the golden age when Sybil Gerard 
lived at the great house, and daily glanced like a spirit 
among their homes, smiling and met with smiles, 
blessing and ever blessed. 

*And here,' she said to Egremont, *I must bid you 
good-bye; and this little boy,' touching gently on his 
head a serious urchin who had never left her side for 
a moment, proud of his position, and holding tight 
her hand with all his strength, 'this little boy shall 
be your guide. It is not a hundred yards. Now, 
Pierce, you must take Mr. Franklin to the factory, and 
ask for Mr. Gerard.' And she went her way. 

They had not separated five minutes, when the 
sound of whirling wheels caught the ear of Egremont, 
and, looking round, he saw a cavalcade of great pre- 
tension rapidly approaching; dames and cavaliers on 
horseback; a brilliant equipage, postilions and four 
horses; a crowd of grooms. Egremont stood aside. 
The horsemen and horsewomen caracoled gaily by 
him; proudly swept on the sparkling barouche; the 
saucy grooms pranced in his face. Their masters and 
mistresses were not strangers to him: he recognised 
with some dismay the liveries, and then the arms of 
Lord de Mowbray, and caught the cold, proud coun- 
tenance of Lady Joan, and the flexible visage of Lady 



264 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Maud, both on horseback, and surrounded by admir- 
ing cavaliers. 

Egremont flattered himself that he had not been 
recognised, and, dismissing his little guide, instead 
of proceeding to the factory, he sauntered away in 
an opposite direction, and made a visit to the Church. 

The wife of Trafford embraced Sybil, and then emr 
braced her again. She seemed as happy as the chil- 
dren of the village, that the joy of her roof, as of so 
many others, had returned to them, though only for 
a few hours. Her husband, she said, had just quitted 
the house; he was obliged to go to the factory to re- 
ceive a great and distinguished party who were ex- 
pected this morning, having written to him several 
days before for permission to view the works. 'We 
expect them to lunch here afterwards,' said Mrs. 
Trafford, a refined woman, but unused to society, 
and who rather trembled at the ceremony; 'Oh! do 
stay with me, Sybil, to receive them.' 

This intimation so much alarmed Sybil that she 
rose as soon as was practicable; and saying that 
she had some visits to make in the village, she prom- 
ised to return when Mrs. Trafford was less engaged. 

An hour elapsed; there was a loud ring at the 
hall-door; the great and distinguished party had ar- 
rived. Mrs. Trafford prepared for the interview, and 
looked a little frightened as the doors opened, and 
her husband ushered in and presented to her Lord 
and Lady de Mowbray, their daughters. Lady Fire- 
brace, Mr. Jermyn, who still lingered at the castle, 
and Mr. Alfred Mountchesney and Lord Milford, who 
were mere passing guests, on their way to Scotland, 
but reconnoitering the heiresses in their course. 

Lord de Mowbray was profuse of praise and com- 



SYBIL 



265 



pliments. His lordship was apt to be too civil. The 
breed would come out sometimes. To-day he was 
quite the coffee-house waiter. He praised everything: 
the machinery, the workmen, the cotton manufactured 
and the cotton raw, even the smoke. But Mrs. Traf- 
ford would not have the smoke defended, and his 
lordship gave up the smoke, but only to please her. 
As for Lady de Mowbray, she was as usual courteous 
and condescending, with a kind of smouldering smile 
on her fair aquiline face, that seemed half pleasure and 
half surprise at the strange people she was among. 
Lady Joan was haughty and scientific, approved of 
much, but principally of the system of ventilation, of 
which she asked several questions which greatly per- 
plexed Mrs. Trafford, who slightly blushed, and looked 
at her husband for relief, but he was engaged with 
Lady Maud, who was full of enthusiasm, entered into 
everything with the zest of sympathy, identified her- 
self with the factory system almost as much as she 
had done with the Crusades, and longed to teach in 
singing schools, found public gardens, and bid foun- 
tains flow and sparkle for the people. 

'\ think the works were wonderful,' said Lord 
Milford, as he was cutting a pasty; 'and indeed, Mrs. 
Trafford, everything here is charming; but what I 
have most admired at your place, is a young girl we 
met; the most beautiful I think I ever saw.' 

*With the most beautiful dog,' said Mr. Mount- 
chesney. 

*0h! that must have been Sybil!' exclaimed Mrs. 
Trafford. 

'And who is Sybil?* asked Lady Maud. 'That is 
one of our family names. We all thought her quite 
beautiful.' 



266 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'She is a child of the house/ said Mrs. Trafford, 
'or rather was, for I am sorry to say she has long 
quitted us/ 

Ms she a nun?' asked Lord Milford, 'for her vest- 
ments had a conventual air.' 

*She has just left your convent at Mowbray/ said 
Mr. Trafford, addressing his answer to Lady Maud, 
'and rather against her will. She clings to the dress 
she was accustomed to there.' 

*And now she resides with you?' 

*No; I should be happy if she did. I might al- 
most say she was brought up under this roof. She 
lives now with her father.' 

'And who is so fortunate as to be her father?' in- 
quired Mr. Mountchesney. 

'Her father is the inspector of my works; the per- 
son who accompanied us over them this morning.' 

'What! that handsome man 1 so much admired,' 
said Lady Maud, 'so very aristocratic-looking. Papa,' 
she said, addressing herself to Lord de Mowbray, 
'the inspector of Mr. Trafford's works we are speak- 
ing of, that aristocratic-looking person that I observed 
to you, he is the father of the beautiful girl.' 

'He seemed a very intelligent person,' said Lord 
de Mowbray, with many smiles. 

'Yes,' said Mr. Trafford; 'he has great talents and 
great integrity. 1 would trust him with anything and 
to any amount. All 1 wish,' he added, with a smile 
and in a lower tone to Lady de Mowbray, ' all I wish 
is, that he was not quite so fond of politics.' 

'Is he very violent?' inquired her ladyship, in a 
sugary tone. 

'Too violent,* said Mr. Trafford; 'and wild in his 
ideas.' 



SYBIL 



267 



*And yet I suppose,' said Lord Milford, 'he must 
be very well off. ' 

* Why, I must say for him it is not selfishness that 
makes him a malcontent,' said Mr. Trafford; *he be- 
moans the condition of the people.' 

'If we are to judge of the condition of the people 
by what we see here,' said Lord de Mowbray, 'there 
is little to lament in it. But I fear these are instances 
not so common as we could wish. You must have 
been at a great outlay, Mr. Trafford.?' 

'Why,' said Mr. Trafford, 'for my part I have al- 
ways considered that there was nothing so expensive 
as a vicious population. 1 hope 1 had other objects 
in view in what 1 have done than a pecuniary com- 
pensation. They say we all have our hobbies; and it 
was ever mine to improve the condition of my work- 
people, to see what good tenements, and good schools, 
and just wages paid in a fair manner, and the en- 
couragement of civilising pursuits would do to ele- 
vate their character. I should find an ample reward 
in the moral tone and material happiness of this com- 
munity; but, really, viewing it in a pecuniary point of 
view, the investment of capital has been one of the 
most profitable I ever made; and I would not, I as- 
sure you, for double its amount, exchange my work- 
people for the promiscuous assemblage engaged in 
other factories.' 

' The influence of the atmosphere on the condition of 
the labourer is a subject which deserves investigation,' 
said Lady Joan to Mr. Jermyn, who stared and bowed. 

'And you do not feel alarmed at having a person 
of such violent opinions as your inspector at the head 
of your estabhshment ?' said Lady Firebrace to Mr. 
Trafford, who smiled a negative. 



268 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'What is the name of the intelligent individual 
who accompanied us?' inquired Lord de Mowbray. 

'His name is Gerard,' said Mr. Trafford. 

*I believe a common name in these parts,' said 
Lord de Mowbray, looking a little confused. 

'Not very,' said Mr. Trafford; "tis an old name, 
and the stock has spread; but all Gerards claim a 
common lineage, 1 believe, and my inspector has 
gentle blood, they say, in his veins.' 

'He looks as if he had,' said Lady Maud. 

'All persons with good names affect good blood,' 
said Lord de Mowbray; and then turning to Mrs. 
Trafford he overwhelmed her with elaborate courtesies 
of praise; praised everything again : first generally and 
then in detail; the factory, which he seemed to pre- 
fer to his castle; the house, which he seemed to 
prefer even to the factory; the gardens, from which 
he anticipated even greater gratification than from the 
house. And this led to an expression of a hope that 
he would visit them. And so in due time the lunch- 
eon was achieved. Mrs. Trafford looked at her 
guests, there was a rustling and a stir, and every- 
body was to go and see the gardens that Lord de 
Mowbray had so much praised. 

'I am all for looking after the beautiful nun,' said 
Mr. Mountchesney to Lord Milford. 

'I think 1 shall ask the respectable manufacturer 
to introduce me to her,' replied his lordship. 

In the meantime Egremont had joined Gerard at 
the factory. 

'You should have come sooner,' said Gerard, 'and 
then you might have gone round with the fine folks. 
We have had a grand party here from the castle.' 

'So I perceived,' said Egremont, 'and withdrew.' 



SYBIL 269 

*Ah! they were not in your way, eh?' he said in 
a mocking smile. ' Well, they were very condescend- 
ing; at least for such great people. An earl! Earl de 
Mowbray; I suppose he came over with William the 
Conqueror. Mr. Trafford makes a show of the place, 
and it amuses their visitors, I dare say, like anything 
else that's strange. There were some young gentle- 
men with them, who did not seem to know much 
about anything. I thought I had a right to be 
amused too; and I must say I liked very much to 
see one of them looking at the machinery through 
his eye-glass. There was one very venturesome chap: 
I thought he was going to catch hold of the fly- 
wheel, but I gave him a spin which I believe saved 
his life, though he did rather stare. He was a lord.' 

' They are great heiresses, his daughters, they say 
at Mowbray,' said Egremont. 

'I dare say,' said Gerard. 'A year ago this earl 
had a son, an only son, and then his daughters were 
not great heiresses. But the son died, and now it's 
their turn. And perhaps some day it will be some- 
body else's turn. If you want to understand the ups 
and downs of life, there's nothing like the parchments 
of an estate. Now master, now man! He who served 
in the hall now lords in it; and very often the baseborn 
change their liveries for coronets, while gentle blood 
has nothing left but — dreams; eh, Master Franklin .^^' 

Mt seems you know the history of this Lord de 
Mowbray ? ' 

* Why, a man learns a good many things in his 
time; and living in these parts, there are few secrets 
of the notables. He has had the title to his broad 
acres questioned before this time, my friend.' 

Mndeed!' 



270 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Yes; I could not help thinking of that to-day,' 
said Gerard, ' when he questioned me with his min- 
cing voice and pulled the wool with his cursed white 
hands and showed it to his dame, who touched it 
with her little finger; and his daughters, who tossed 
their heads like peahens, Lady Joan and Lady Maud. 
Lady Joan and Lady Maud!' repeated Gerard in a 
voice of bitter sarcasm. 'I did not care for the rest; 
but I could not stand that Lady Joan and that Lady 
Maud. I wonder if my Sybil saw them.' 

In the meantime, Sybil had been sent for by Mrs. 
Trafford. She had inferred from the message that the 
guests had departed, and her animated cheek showed 
the eagerness with which she had responded to the 
call. Bounding along with a gladness of the heart 
which lent additional lustre to her transcendent 
brightness, she suddenly found herself surrounded in 
the garden by Lady Maud and her friends. The 
daughter of Lord de Mowbray, who could conceive 
nothing but humility as the cause of her alarmed 
look, attempted to reassure her by condescending 
volubility, turning often to her friends and praising in 
admiring interrogatories Sybil's beauty. 

'And we took advantage of your absence,' said 
Lady Maud in a tone of amiable artlessness, ' to find 
out all about you. And what a pity we did not 
know you when you were at the convent, because 
then you might have been constantly at the castle; 
indeed 1 should have insisted on it. But still I hear 
we are neighbours; you must promise to pay me a 
visit, you must indeed. Is not she beautiful ? ' she 
added in a lower but still distinct voice to her friend. 
'Do you know, I think there is so much beauty 
among the lower order.' 



SYBIL 



Mr. Mountchesney and Lord Milford poured forth 
several insipid compliments, accompanied with some 
speaking looks which they flattered themselves could 
not be misconstrued. Sybil said not a word, but an- 
swered each flood of phrases with a cold reverence. 

Undeterred by her somewhat haughty demeanour, 
which Lady Maud only attributed to the novehy of 
her situation, her ignorance of the world, and her 
embarrassment under this overpowering condescen- 
sion, the good-tempered and fussy daughter of Lord 
de Mowbray proceeded to reassure Sybil, and to en- 
force on her that this perhaps unprecedented descent 
from superiority was not a mere transient courtliness 
of the moment, and that she really might rely on 
her patronage and favourable feeling. 

* You really must come and see me,' said Lady 
Maud, ' I shall never be happy till you have made 
me a visit. Where do you live? I will come and 
fetch you myself in the carriage. Now let us fix a 
day at once. Let me see, this is Saturday. What 
say you to next Monday ? ' 

*I thank you,' said Sybil, very gravely, * but I 
never quit my home.' 

'What a darling!' exclaimed Lady Maud looking 
round at her friends. Ms not she? I know exactly 
what you feel. But really you shall not be the least 
embarrassed. It may feel strange at first, to be sure, 
but then I shall be there; and do you know I look 
upon you quite as my protegee.' 

' ProUg^e,' said Sybil. 'I live with my father.' 

*What a dear!' said Lady Maud, looking round to 
Lord Milford. * Is not she naive ? ' 

' And are you the guardian of these beautiful flow- 
ers ? ' said Mr. .Mountchesney. 



272 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Sybil signified a negative, and added, ' Mrs. TrafTord 
is very proud of them.' 

*You must see the flowers at Mowbray Castle,' 
said Lady Maud. 'They are unprecedented, are they 
not. Lord Milford ? You know you said the other 
day that they were equal to Mrs. Lawrence's. I am 
charmed to find you are fond of flowers,' continued 
Lady Maud; 'you will be so delighted with Mowbray. 
Ah! mama is calling us. Now fix; shall it be Mon- 
day?' 

'Indeed,' said Sybil, '1 never leave my home. I 
am one of the lower order, and live only among the 
lower order. I am here to-day merely for a few hours 
to pay an act of homage to a benefactor.' 

'Well, I shall come and fetch you,' said Lady 
Maud, covering her surprise and mortification by a 
jaunty air that would not confess defeat. 

'And so shall I,' said Mr. Mountchesney. 

'And so shall 1,' whispered Lord Milford, linger- 
ing a little behind. 

The great and distinguished party had disappeared; 
their glittering barouche, their prancing horses, their 
gay grooms, all had vanished; the sound of their 
wheels was no longer heard. Time flew on; the bell 
announced that the labour of the week had closed. 
There was a half holiday always on the last day of 
the week at Mr. Trafford's settlement; and every man, 
woman, and child, were paid their wages in the great 
room before they left the mill. Thus the expensive 
and evil habits which result from wages being paid 
in public-houses were prevented. There was also in 
this system another great advantage for the workpeo- 
ple. They received their wages early enough to re- 
pair to the neighbouring markets and make their 



SYBIL 



273 



purchases for the morrow. This added greatly to their 
comfort, and, rendering it unnecessary for them to 
run in debt to the shopkeepers, added really to their 
wealth. Mr. Trafford thought that next to the amount 
of wages, the most important consideration was the 
method in which wages are paid; and those of our 
readers who may have read or can recall the sketches, 
neither coloured nor exaggerated, which we have 
given in the early part of this volume of the very 
different manner in which the working classes may 
receive the remuneration for their toil, will probably 
agree with the sensible and virtuous master of Wal- 
ter Gerard. 

He, accompanied by his daughter and Egremont, 
is now on his way home. A soft summer afternoon; 
the mild beam still gilding the tranquil scene; a river, 
green meads full of kine, woods vocal with the joy- 
ous song of the thrush and the blackbird; and in the 
distance, the lofty breast of the purple moor, still 
blazing in the sun: fair sights and renovating sounds 
after a day of labour passed in walls and amid the 
ceaseless and monotonous clang of the spindle and 
the loom. So Gerard felt it, as he stretched his great 
limbs in the air and inhaled its perfumed volume. 

'Ah! I was made for this, Sybil,' he exclaimed; 
*but never mind, my child, never mind; tell me more 
of your fine visitors.' 

Egremont found the walk too short; fortunately, 
from the undulation of the vale, they could not see 
the cottage until within a hundred yards of it. When 
they were in sight, a man came forth from the gar- 
den to greet them; Sybil gave an exclamation of 
pleasure; it was Morley. 

14 B. D.— 18 



CHAPTER XXXI. 




Stephen Pays a Visit. 

ORLEY greeted Gerard and his daugh- 
ter with great warmth, and then 
looked at Egremont. * Our compan- 
ion in the ruins of Marney Abbey,' 
said Gerard; *you and our friend 
Franklin here should become ac- 
quainted, Stephen, for you both follow the same craft. 
He is a journalist like yourself, and is our neighbour 
for a time, and yours.' 

'What journal are you on, may I ask.?' inquired 
Morley. 

Egremont reddened, was confused, and then re- 
plied, M have no claim to the distinguished title of a 
journalist. I am but a reporter; and have some 
special duties here.' 

'Hem!' said Morley; and then taking Gerard by 
the arm, he walked away with him, leaving Egre- 
mont and Sybil to follow them. 

'Well I have found him, Walter.' 

'What, Hatton?' 

'No, no; the brother.' 

'And what knows he?' 

'Little enough; yet something. Our man lives 
(274) 



SYBIL 



275 



and prospers; these are facts, but where he is, or 
what he is — not a clue.' 

'And this brother cannot help us?' 

'On the contrary, he sought information from me; 
he is a savage, beneath even our worst ideas of pop- 
ular degradation. All that is ascertained is that our 
man exists and is well-to-do in the world. There 
comes an annual and anonymous contribution, and 
not a light one, to his brother. I examined the post- 
marks of the letters, but they all varied, and were 
evidently arranged to mislead. I fear you will deem 
I have not done much; yet it was wearisome enough, 
I can tell you.' 

'I doubt it not; and I am sure, Stephen, you have 
done all that man could. I was fancying that I 
should hear from you to-day; for what think you has 
happened? My lord himself, his family and train, 
have all been in state to visit the works, and I had 
to show them. Queer that, wasn't it ? He offered me 
money when it was over. How much I know not, I 
would not look at it. Though to be sure, they were 
perhaps my own rents, eh ? But I pointed to the sick 
box, and his own dainty hand deposited the sum there.' 

"Tis very strange. And you were with him face 
to face?' 

'Face to face. Had you brought me news of the 
papers, I should have thought that Providence had 
rather a hand in it; but now, we are still at sea.' 

'Still at sea,' said Morley musingly, 'but he lives 
and prospers. He will turn up yet, Walter.' 

'Amen! Since you have taken up this thing, 
Stephen, it is strange how my mind has hankered 
after the old business, and yet it ruined my father, 
and mayhap may do as bad for his son.' 



276 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'We will not think that,' said Morley. 'At present 
we will think of other things. You may guess I am 
a bit wearied; I think I'll say good night; you have 
strangers with you.' 

'Nay, nay, man; nay. This Franklin is a likely 
lad enough; I think you will take to him. Prithee 
come in. Sybil will not take it kindly if you go, 
after so long an absence; and I am sure I shall not.' 

So they entered together. 

The evening passed in various conversation, 
though it led frequently to the staple subject of talk 
beneath the roof of Gerard — the condition of the 
people. What Morley had seen in his recent excur- 
sion afforded materials for many comments. 

' The domestic feeling is fast vanishing among the 
working classes of this country,' said Gerard; 'nor is 
it wonderful; the home no longer exists.' 

'But there are means of reviving it,' said Egre- 
mont; 'we have witnessed them to-day. Give men 
homes, and they will have soft and homely notions. 
If all men acted like Mr. Trafford, the condition of 
the people would be changed.' 

'But all men will not act like Mr. Trafford,' said 
Morley. ' It requires a sacrifice of self which cannot 
be expected, which is unnatural. It is not individual 
influence that can renovate society; it is some new 
principle that must reconstruct it. You lament the 
expiring idea of home. It would not be expiring if 
it were worth retaining. The domestic principle has 
fulfilled its purpose. The irresistible law of progress 
demands that another should be developed. It will 
come; you may advance or retard, but you cannot 
prevent it. It will work out like the development of 
organic nature. In the present state of civilisation, 



SYBIL 



277 



and with the scientific means of happiness at our com- 
mand, the notion of home should be obsolete. Home 
is a barbarous idea; the method of a rude age; home 
is isolation; therefore anti-social. What we want is 
community.' 

Mt is all very fine,' said Gerard, *and I dare say 
you are right, Stephen; but I like stretching my feet 
on my own hearth.' 



CHAPTER XXXII. 




Parting. 

IME passes with a measured and 
memorable wing during the first 
period of a sojourn in a new place, 
among new characters and new 
manners. Every person, every in- 
cident, every feeling, touches and 
stirs the imagination. The restless mind creates and ob- 
serves at the same time. Indeed, there is scarcely 
any popular tenet more erroneous than that which 
holds that when time is slow, life is dull. It is very 
often, and very much the reverse. If we look back 
on those passages of our life which dwell most upon 
the memory, they are brief periods full of action and 
novel sensation. 

Egremont found this to be true during the first 
days of his new residence in Mowedale. The first 
week, an epoch in his life, seemed an age; at 
the end of the first month, he began to deplore the 
swiftness of time, and almost to moralise over the 
brevity of existence. He found that he was leading 
a life of perfect happiness, but of remarkable sim- 
plicity; he wished it might never end, but felt 
difficulty in comprehending how, in the first days of 
his experience of it, it had seemed so strange; almost 
(278) 



SYBIL 



as strange as it was sweet. The day, that commenced 
early, was passed in reading; books lent him often, 
too, by Sybil Gerard; sometimes in a ramble with 
her and Morley, who had time much at his command, 
to some memorable spot in the neighbourhood, or in 
the sport which the river and the rod secured Egre- 
mont. In the evening, he invariably repaired to the 
cottage of Gerard, beneath whose humble roof he 
found every female charm that can fascinate, and con- 
versation that stimulated his intelligence. 

Gerard was ever the same; hearty, simple, with a 
depth of native thought on the subjects on which they 
touched, and with a certain grandeur of sentiment 
and conception which contrasted with his social posi- 
tion, but which became his idiosyncrasy. Sybil spoke 
little, but hung upon the accents of her father; yet 
ever and anon her rich tones conveyed to the charmed 
ear of Egremont some deep conviction, the earnest- 
ness of her intellect as remarkable as the almost 
sacred repose of her mien and manner. Of Morley, 
at first Egremont saw a great deal: he lent our friend 
books, opened, with unreserve and with great richness 
of speculative and illustrative power, on the questions 
which ever engaged him, and which were new and 
highly interesting to his companion. But, as time 
advanced, whether it were that the occupations of 
Morley increased, and the calls on his hours left him 
fewer occasions for the indulgence of social inter- 
course, Egremont saw him seldom, except at Gerard's 
cottage, where generally he might be found in the 
course of the week, and their rambles together had 
entirely ceased. 

Alone, Egremont mused much over the daughter 
of Gerard, but, shrinking from the precise and the 



28o BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



definite, his dreams were delightful but vague. All 
that he asked was, that his present life should go on 
for ever; he wished for no change, and at length al- 
most persuaded himself that no change could arrive; 
as men who are basking in a summer sun, surrounded 
by bright and beautiful objects, cannot comprehend 
how the seasons can ever alter; that the sparkling 
foliage should shrivel and fall away, the foaming 
waters become icebound, and the blue serene a dark 
and howling space. 

In this train of mind, the early days of October 
having already stolen on him, an incident occurred 
which startled him in his retirement, and rendered it 
necessary that he should instantly quit it. Egremont 
had entrusted the secret of his residence to a faithful 
servant who communicated with him, when neces- 
sary, under his assumed name. Through these means 
he received a letter from his mother, written from 
London, where she had unexpectedly arrived, en- 
treating him, in urgent terms, to repair to her with- 
out a moment's delay, on a matter of equal interest 
and importance to herself and him. Such an appeal 
from such a quarter, from the parent that had ever 
been kind, and the friend that had ever been faithful, 
was not for a moment to be neglected. Already a 
period had elapsed since its transmission, which Egre- 
mont regretted. He resolved at once to quit Mowe- 
dale, nor could he console himself with the prospect 
of an immediate return. Parliament was to assemble 
in the ensuing month, and, independently of the un- 
known cause which summoned him immediately to 
town, he was well aware that much disagreeable 
business awaited him which could no longer be post- 
poned. He had determined not to take his seat unless 



SYBIL 



281 



the expenses of his contest were previously discharged, 
and, despairing of his brother's aid, and shrinking 
from trespassing any further on his mother's re- 
sources, the future looked gloomy enough: indeed, 
nothing but the frequent presence and the constant 
influence of Sybil had driven from his mind the 
ignoble melancholy which, relieved by no pensive 
fancy, is the invariable attendant of pecuniary em- 
barrassment. 

And now he was to leave her. The event, rather 
the catastrophe, which, under any circumstances, 
could not be long postponed, was to be precipitated. 
He strolled up to the cottage to bid her farewell, and 
to leave kind words for her father. Sybil was not 
there. The old dame who kept their home informed 
him that Sybil was at the convent, but would return 
in the evening. It was impossible to quit Mowedale 
without seeing Sybil; equally impossible to postpone 
his departure. But by travelling through the night, 
the lost hours might be regained. So Egremont made 
his arrangements, and awaited with anxiety and im- 
patience the last evening. 

The evening, like his heart, was not serene. The 
soft air that had lingered so long with them, a 
summer visitant in an autumnal sky, and loth to part, 
was no more present. A cold harsh wind, gradually 
rising, chilled the system, and grated on the nerves. 
There was misery in its blast, and depression in its 
moan. Egremont felt infinitely dispirited. The land- 
scape around him, that he had so often looked upon 
with love and joy, was dull and hard; the trees 
dingy, the leaden waters motionless, the distant hills 
rough and austere. Where was that translucent sky, 
once brilliant as his enamoured fancy; those bowery 



282 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



groves of aromatic fervour wherein he had loved to 
roam and muse; that river of swift and sparkling 
light that flowed and flashed like the current of his 
enchanted hours? All vanished, as his dreams. 

He stood before the cottage of Gerard; he recalled 
the eve that he had first gazed upon its moonlit gar- 
den. What wild and delicious thoughts were then 
his! They were gone like the illumined hour. Nature 
and fortune had alike changed. Prescient of sorrow, 
almost prophetic of evil, he opened the cottage door, 
and the first person his eye encountered was Morley. 

Egremont had not met him for some time, and 
his cordial greeting of Egremont to-night contrasted 
with the coldness, not to say estrangement, which to 
the regret and sometimes the perplexity of Egremont 
had gradually grown up between them. Yet on no 
occasion was his presence less desired by our friend. 
Morley was talking, as Egremont entered, with great 
animation; in his hand a newspaper, on a paragraph 
contained in which he was commenting. The name 
of Marney caught the ear of Egremont, who turned 
rather pale at the sound, and hesitated on the thresh- 
old. The unembarrassed welcome of his friends, 
however, reassured him, and in a moment he even 
ventured to inquire the subject of their conversation. 
Morley, immediately referring to the newspaper, said, 
'This is what 1 have just read: 

'"Extraordinary Sport at the Earl of Marney's. 
On Wednesday, in a small cover called the Horns, 
near Marney Abbey, his Grace the Duke of Fitz- 
Aquitaine, the Earl of Marney, Colonel Rippe, and 
Captain Grouse, with only four hours' shooting, 
bagged the extraordinary number of seven hundred 



SYBIL 



283 



and thirty head of game, namely, hares three hun- 
dred and thirty-nine; pheasants two hundred and 
twenty-one; partridges thirty-four; rabbits eighty- 
seven; and the following day upwards of fifty hares, 
pheasants, &c. (wounded the previous day), were 
picked up. Out of the four hours' shooting, two of 
the party were absent an hour and a half, namely, 
the Earl of Marney and Captain Grouse, attending an 
agricultural meeting in the neighbourhood; the noble 
earl, with his usual considerate condescension, having 
kindly consented personally to distribute the various 
prizes to the labourers whose good conduct entitled 
them to the distinction." 

'What do you think of that. Franklin?' said 
Morley. 'That is our worthy friend of Marney Ab- 
bey, where we first met. You do not know this 
part of the country, or you would smile at the con- 
siderate condescension of the worst landlord in Eng- 
land; and who was, it seems, thus employed the 
day or so after his battue, as they call it.' And 
Morley turning the paper read another paragraph: 

' " At a Petty Sessions holden at the Green Dragon 
Inn, Marney, Friday, October — , 1837. 

'"Magistrates present: The Earl of Marney, the 
Rev. Felix Flimsey, and Captain Grouse. 

'"Information against Thomas Hind for a trespass 
in pursuit of game in Blackrock Wood, the property 
of Sir Vavasour Firebrace, Bart. The case was dis- 
tinctly proved, several wires being found in the 
pocket of the defendant. Defendant was fined in the 
full penalty of forty shillings and costs twenty-seven; 
the Bench being of opinion there was no excuse for 



284 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



him, Hind being in regular employ as a farm-labourer 
and gaining his seven shillings a week. Defendant, 
being unable to pay the penalty, was sent for two 
months to Marham gaol.'" 

'What a pity,' said Morley, 'that Robert Hind, in- 
stead of meditating the snaring of a hare, had not 
been fortunate enough to pick up a maimed one 
crawling about the fields the day after the battue. It 
would certainly have been better for himself; and, if 
he has a wife and family, better for the parish.' 

'Oh!' said Gerard, 'I doubt not they were all 
picked up by the poulterer who has the contract: 
even the Normans did not sell their game.' 

'The question is,' said Morley, 'would you rather 
be barbarous or mean; that is the alternative presented 
by the real and the pseudo Norman nobility of Eng- 
land. Where I have been lately, there is a Bishops- 
gate Street merchant who has been made for no 
conceivable public reason a baron bold. Bigod and 
Bohun could not enforce the forest laws with such 
severity as this dealer in cotton and indigo.' 

'It is a difficult question to deal with, this affair 
of the game laws,' said Egremont; 'how will you 
reach the evil? Would you do away with the of- 
fence of trespass ? And if so, what is your protection 
for property?* 

'It comes to a simple point though,' said Morley, 
'the territorialists must at length understand that they 
cannot at the same time have the profits of a farm 
and the pleasures of a chase.' 

At this moment entered Sybil. At the sight of 
her, the remembrance that they were about to part 
nearly overwhelmed Egremont. Her supremacy over 



SYBIL 



285 



his spirit was revealed to him, and nothing but the 
presence of other persons could have prevented him 
from avowing his entire subjection. His hand trem- 
bled as he touched hers, and his eye, searching yet 
agitated, would have penetrated her serene soul. 
Gerard and Morley, somewhat withdrawn, pursued 
their conversation; while Egremont, hanging over 
Sybil, attempted to summon courage to express to 
her his sad adieu. It was in vain. Alone, perhaps 
he might have poured forth a passionate farewell. 
But constrained he became embarrassed; and his con- 
duct was at the same time tender and perplexing. 
He asked and repeated questions which had already 
been answered. His thoughts wandered from their 
conversation, but not from her with whom he should 
have conversed. Once their eyes met, and Sybil ob- 
served his suffused with tears. Once he looked round 
and caught the glance of Morley, instantly withdrawn, 
but not easy to be forgotten. 

Shortly after this and earlier than his wont, Morley 
rose and wished them good night. He shook hands 
with Egremont and bade him farewell with some 
abruptness. Harold, who seemed half asleep, sud- 
denly sprang from the side of his mistress and gave 
an agitated bark. Harold was never very friendly to 
Morley, who now tried to soothe him, but in vain. 
The dog looked fiercely at him and barked again, but, 
the moment Morley had disappeared, Harold resumed 
his usual air of proud, high-bred gentleness, and 
thrust his nose into the hand of Egremont, who 
patted him with fondness. 

The departure of Morley was a great relief to Egre- 
mont, though the task that was left was still a 
painful effort. He rose and walked for a moment up 



286 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



and down the room, and commenced an unfinished 
sentence, approached the hearth, and leant over the 
mantel; and then at length extending his hand to 
Gerard, he exclaimed, in a trembling voice, ' Best of 
friends, I must leave Mowedale.' 

M am very sorry,' said Gerard; 'and when?' 

'Now,' said Egremont. 

*Now!' said Sybil. 

'Yes; this instant. My summons is urgent. I 
ought to have left this morning. I came here then to 
bid you farewell,' he said, looking at Sybil, * to ex- 
press to you how deeply 1 was indebted to you for 
all your goodness; how dearly 1 shall cherish the 
memory of these happy days, the happiest I have 
ever known;' and his voice faltered. M came also to 
leave a kind message for you, my friend, a hope that 
we might meet again and soon, but your daughter 
was absent, and I could not leave Mowedale without 
seeing either of you. So I must contrive to get on 
through the night.' 

*WelI, we lose a pleasant neighbour,' said Gerard; 
' we shall miss you, I doubt not, eh, Sybil ? ' 

But Sybil had turned away her head; she was 
leaning over and seemed to be caressing Harold, and 
was silent. 

How much Egremont would have liked to have 
offered or invited correspondence; to have proffered 
his services, when the occasion permitted; to have 
said or proposed many things that might have cher- 
ished their acquaintance or friendship; but, embar- 
rassed by his incognito and all its consequent deception, 
he could do nothing but tenderly express his regret 
at parting, and speak vaguely and almost myster- 
iously of their soon meeting again. He held out 



SYBIL 



287 



again his hand to Gerard, who shook it heartily: 
then approaching Sybil, Egremont said, ' You have 
shown me a thousand kindnesses, which I cherish,' 
he added in a lower tone, 'above all human circum- 
stances. Would you deign to let this volume lie upon 
your table?' and he offered Sybil an English translation 
of Thomas a Kempis, illustrated by some masterpieces. 
In its first page was written 'Sybil, from a faithful 
friend.' 

' I accept it,' said Sybil, with a trembling voice 
and rather pale, 'in remembrance of a friend.' She 
held forth her hand to Egremont, who retained it for 
an instant, and then bending very low, pressed it to 
his lips. As with an agitated heart he hastily crossed 
the threshold of the cottage, something seemed to 
hold him back. He turned round. The bloodhound 
had seized him by the coat, and looked up to him 
with an expression of affectionate remonstrance against 
his departure. Egremont bent down, caressed Harold, 
and released himself from his grasp. 

When Egremont left the cottage, he found the 
country enveloped in a thick white mist, so that 
had it not been for some huge black shadows which 
he recognised as the crests of trees, it would have 
been very difficult to discriminate the earth from the 
sky, and the mist thickening as he advanced, even 
these fallacious landmarks threatened to disappear. 
He had to walk to Mowbray to catch a night train 
for London. Every moment was valuable, but the 
unexpected and increasing obscurity rendered his prog- 
ress slow and even perilous. The contiguity to the 
river made every step important. He had, according 
to his calculations, proceeded nearly as far as his old 
residence, ajnd notwithstanding the careless courage of 



288 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



youth and the annoyance of relinquishing a project, 
intolerable at that season of life, was meditating the 
expediency of renouncing that night the attempt on 
Mowbray and of gaining his former quarters for shelter. 
He stopped, as he had stopped several times before, 
to calculate rather than to observe. The mist was so 
thick that he could not see his own extended hand. 
It was not the first time that it had occurred to him 
that some one or some thing was hovering about his 
course. 

'Who is there?' exclaimed Egremont. But no one 
answered. 

He moved on a little, but very slowly. He felt 
assured that his ear caught a contiguous step. He re- 
peated his interrogatory in a louder tone, but it ob- 
tained no response. Again he stopped. Suddenly he 
was seized; an iron grasp assailed his throat, a hand 
of steel griped his arm. The unexpected onset hur- 
ried him on. The sound of waters assured him that 
he was approaching the precipitous bank of that part 
of the river which, from a ledge of pointed rocks, 
here formed rapids. Vigorous and desperate, Egre- 
mont plunged like some strong animal on whom a 
beast of prey had made a fatal spring. His feet clung 
to the earth as if they were held by some magnetic 
power. With his disengaged arm he grappled with 
his mysterious and unseen foe. 

At this moment he heard the deep bay of a hound. 

* Harold!' he exclaimed. The dog, invisible, sprang 
forward and seized upon his assailant. So violent 
was the impulse that Egremont staggered and fell, 
but he fell freed from his dark enemy. Stunned and 
exhausted, some moments elapsed before he was en- 
tirely himself. The wind had suddenly changed; a 



SYBIL 



289 



violent gust had partially dispelled the mist; the out- 
line of the landscape was in many places visible. 
Beneath him were the rapids of the Mowe, over 
which a watery moon threw a faint, flickering light. 
Egremont was lying on its precipitous bank; and 
Harold, panting, was leaning over him and looking in 
his face, and sometimes licking him with that tongue 
which, though not gifted with speech, had spoken 
so seasonably in the moment of danger. 

14 B, D.— 19 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 




Politicians in Petticoats. 

RE you going down to the House, 
Egerton?' inquired Mr. Berners at 
Brooks's, of a brother M.P., about 
four o'clock in the early part of 
the spring of 1839. 
* The moment I have sealed this 
letter; we will walk down together, if you like;' and 
in a few minutes they left the club. 

'Our fellows are in a sort of fright about this Ja- 
maica bill,' said Mr. Egerton, in an undertone, as if 
he were afraid a passer-by might hear him. ' Don't 
say anything about it, but there's a screw loose.' 
'The deuce! But how do you mean?' 
* They say the Rads are going to throw us over.' 
' Talk, talk. They have threatened this half-a- 
dozen times. Smoke, sir; it will end in smoke.' 

'1 hope it may; but I know, in great confidence, 
mind you, that Lord John was saying something 
about it yesterday.' 

'That may be; I believe our fellows are heartily 
sick of the business, and perhaps would be glad of 
an excuse to break up the government: but we must 
not have Peel in; nothing could prevent dissolution.' 
( 290 ) 



SYBIL 



291 



'Their fellows go about and say that Peel would 
not dissolve if he came in.' 
' Trust him ! ' 

'He has had enough of dissolutions, they say. 
' Why, after all, they have not done him much 
harm. Even '34 was a hit.' 

* Whoever dissolves, ' said Mr. Egerton, ' I do not 
think there will be much of a majority either way in 
our time.' 

* We have seen strange things,' said Mr. Berners. 

' They never would think of breaking up the gov- 
ernment without making their peers,' said Mr. Eger- 
ton. 

' The Queen is not over partial to making more 
peers; and when parties are in the present state of 
equality, the Sovereign is no longer a mere pageant.' 

' They say her Majesty is more touched about these 
affairs of the Chartists than anything else,' said Mr. 
Egerton. 

'They are rather queer; but for my part I have no 
serious fears of a Jacquerie.' 

'Not if it comes to an outbreak; but a passive re- 
sistance Jacquerie is altogether a different thing. 
When we see a regular convention assembled in 
London and holding its daily meetings in Palace Yard, 
and a general inclination evinced throughout the 
country to refrain from the consumption of excisable 
articles, I cannot help thinking that affairs are more 
serious than you imagine. I know the government 
are all on the qui vive,' 

'Just the fellows we wanted!* exclaimed Lord 
Fitz-Heron, who was leaning on the arm of Lord 
Milford, and who met Mr. Egerton and his friend in 
Pall Mall. 



292 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



*We want a brace of pairs,' said Lord Milford. 
'Will you two fellows pair?' 

'I must go down,' said Mr. Egerton; 'but I will 
pair from half-past seven to eleven.' 

'I just paired with Ormsby at White's,' said Ber- 
ners, * not half an hour ago. We are both going to 
dine at Eskdale's, and so it was arranged. Have you 
any news to-day?' 

'Nothing; except they say that Alfred Mountches- 
ney is going to marry Lady Joan Fitz-Warene/ said 
Lord Milford.' 

' She has been given to so many,' said Mr. Egerton. 

'It is always so with these great heiresses,' said 
his companion. 'They never marry. They cannot 
bear the thought of sharing their money. I bet Lady 
Joan will turn out another specimen of the Tabitha 
Croesus.' 

'Well, put down our pair, Egerton,' said Lord 
Fitz-Heron. 'You do not dine at Sidonia's by any 
chance ? ' 

'Would that I did! You will have the best dishes 
and the best guests. I feed at old Malton's: per- 
haps a tete-d'tite: Scotch broth and to tell him the 
news!' 

'There is nothing like being a dutiful nephew, 
particularly when one's uncle is a bachelor and has 
twenty thousand a year,' said Lord Milford. ' Au 
revoir ! I suppose there will be no division to-night.' 

' No chance.' 

Egerton and Berners walked on a little further. 
As they came to the Golden Ball, a lady quitting the 
shop was just about to get into her carriage; she 
stopped as she recognised them. It was Lady Fire- 
brace. 



SYBIL 



293 



*Ah! Mr. Berners, how d'ye do? You were just 
the person I wanted to see! How is Lady Augusta, 
Mr. Egerton.?^ You have no idea, Mr. Berners, how I 
have been fighting your battles!' 

'Really, Lady Firebrace,' said Mr. Berners, rather 
uneasy, for he had perhaps, Hke most of us, a pe- 
culiar dislike to being attacked or cheapened. ' You 
are too good.' 

'Oh! I don't care what a person's politics are!' 
exclaimed Lady Firebrace, with an air of affectionate 
devotion. * I should be very glad indeed to see you 
one of us. You know your father was! But if any 
one is my friend, I never will hear him attacked be- 
hind his back without fighting his battles: and I cer- 
tainly did fight yours last night.' 

'Pray tell me where it was?' 

'Lady Crumbleford — ' 

'Confound Lady Crumbleford!' said Mr. Berners, 
indignant, but a little relieved. 

'No, no; Lady Crumbleford told Lady Alicia Sev- 
ern.' 

'Yes, yes,' said Berners, a little pale, for he was 
touched. 

'But I cannot stop,' said Lady Firebrace. 'I must 
be with Lady St. Julians exactly at a quarter past 
four;' and she sprang into her carriage. 

'I would sooner meet any woman in London than 
Lady Firebrace,' said Mr. Berners; 'she makes me 
uneasy for the day; she contrives to convince me that 
the whole world are employed behind my back in 
abusing or ridiculing me.' 

'It is her way,' said Egerton; 'she proves her 
zeal by showing you that you are odious. It is very 
successful with people of weak nerves. Scared at 



294 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



their general unpopularity, they seek refuge with the 
very person who at the same time assures them of 
their odium and alone believes it unjust. She rules 
that poor old goose, Lady Gramshawe, who feels 
that Lady Firebrace makes her life miserable, but is 
convinced that if she break with the torturer, she 
loses her only friend.' 

'There goes a man who is as much altered as 
any fellow of our time.' 

'Not in his looks; I was thinking the other night 
that he was better-looking than ever.* 

*0h! no; not in his looks, but in his life. I was 
at Christchurch with him, and we entered the world 
about the same time. I was rather before him. 
He did everything, and did it well. And now one 
never sees him, except at the House. He goes no- 
where; and they tell me he is a regular reading 
man.' 

*Do you think he looks to office?* , 

*He does not put himself forward.* 

'He attends; and his brother will always be able 
to get anything for him,' said Egerton. 

'Oh! he and Marney never speak; they hate each 
other.' 

'By Jove! however, there is his mother; with this 
marriage of hers and Deloraine House, she will be 
their grandest dame.' 

'She is the only good woman the Tories have: I 
think their others do them harm, from Lady St. Ju- 
lians down to your friend Lady Firebrace. 1 wish 
Lady Deloraine were with us. She keeps their men 
together wonderfully; makes her house agreeable; and 
then her manner, it certainly is perfect; natural, and 
yet refined.' 



SYBIL 



295 



'Lady Mina Blake has an idea that, far from look- 
ing to office, Egremont's heart is faintly with his 
party; and that if it were not for the Marchioness — ' 

' We might gain him, eh ? ' 

'Hem; 1 hardly know that: he has got crotchets 
about the people, I am told.' 

'What, the ballot and household suffrage?' 

* ' Gad ! I believe it is quite a different sort of a 
thing. 1 do not know what it is exactly; but I un- 
derstand he is crotchety.' 

'Well, that will not do for Peel. He does not 
like crotchety men. Do you see that, Egerton ? ' 

At this moment, Mr. Egerton and his friend were 
about to step over from Trafalgar-square to Charing 
Cross. They observed the carriages of Lady St. Ju- 
lians and the Marchioness of Deloraine drawn up side 
by side in the middle of the street, and those two 
eminent stateswomen in earnest conversation. Eger- 
ton and Berners bov/ed and smiled, but could not 
hear the brief but not uninteresting words that have 
nevertheless reached us. 

'I give them eleven,' said Lady St. Julians. 

'Well, Charles tells me,' said Lady Deloraine, 
'that Sir Thomas says so, and he certainly is gener- 
ally right; but it is not Charles's own opinion.' 

'Sir Thomas, I know, gives them eleven,' said 
Lady St. Julians; 'and that would satisfy me; and we 
will say eleven. But 1 have a list here,' and she 
slightly elevated her brow, and then glanced at Lady 
Deloraine with a piquant air, ' which proves that they 
cannot have more than nine; but this is in the greatest 
confidence: of course between us there can be no se- 
crets. It is Mr. Tadpole's list; nobody has seen it 
but myself; not even Sir Robert. Lord Grubminster 



296 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



has had a stroke; they are concealing it, but Mr. 
Tadpole has found it out. They wanted to pair him 
off with Colonel Fantomme, who they think is dy- 
ing; but Mr. Tadpole has got a mesmerist who has 
done wonders for him, and who has guaranteed that 
he shall vote. Well, that makes a difference of one.' 

'And then Sir Henry Churton — ' 

*0h! you know it,' said Lady St. Julians, looking 
slightly mortified. 'Yes; he votes with us.' 

Lady Deloraine shook her head. '1 think,' she 
-said, ' I know the origin of that report. Quite a 
mistake. He is in a bad humour, has been so the 
whole session, and he was at Lady Alice Fermyne's 
and did say all sorts of things. All that is true. But 
he told Charles this morning, on a committee, that he 
should vote with the Government.' 

'Stupid man!' exclaimed Lady St. Julians; '1 never 
could bear him. And I have sent his vulgar wife 
and great staring daughter a card for next Wednes- 
day! Well, I hope affairs will soon be brought to a 
crisis, for I do not think I can bear much longer this 
life of perpetual sacrifice,' added Lady St. Julians, a little 
out of temper, both because she had lost a vote and 
found her friend and rival better informed than herself. 

'There is no chance of a division to-night,' said 
Lady Deloraine. 

'That is settled,' said Lady St. Julians. 'Adieu, 
my dear friend. We meet, 1 believe, at dinner?' 

'Plotting,' said Mr. Egerton to Mr. Berners, as 
they passed the great ladies. 

'The only consolation one has,' said Berners, 'is, 
that if they do turn us out. Lady Deloraine and Lady 
St. Julians must quarrel, for they both want the same 
thing.' 



SYBIL 



'Lady Deloraine will have it,' said Egerton. 

Here they picked up Mr. Jermyn, a young Tory 
M. P., whom perhaps the reader may remember at 
Mowbray Castle; and they walked on together, Eger- 
ton and Berners trying to pump him as to the expec- 
tations of his friends. 

'How will Trodgits go?' said Egerton. 

'I think Trodgits will stay away,' said Jermyn. 

'Whom do you give that new man to, that north- 
country borough fellow; what's his name?' said 
Berners. 

'Blugsbyl oh, Blugsby dined with Peel,' said 
Jermyn. 

'Our fellows say dinners are no good,' said Eger- 
ton; 'and they certainly are a cursed bore: but you 
may depend upon it they do for the burgesses. We 
don't dine our men half enough. Now Blugsby was 
just the sort of fellow to be caught by dining with 
Peel; and 1 dare say they made Peel remember to take 
wine with him. We got Melbourne to give a grand 
feed the other day to some of our men who want at- 
tention, they say, and he did not take wine with a 
single guest. He forgot. 1 wonder what they are 
doing at the House! Here is Spencer May, he will 
tell us. Well, what is going on?' 

'Wishy is down, and Washy up.' 

'No division, of course?' 

'Not a chance; a regular covey ready on both 
sides.' 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 




A Birthday Gift. 



N THE morning of the same day 
) that Mr. Egerton and his friend Mr. 
Berners walked down together to 



the House of Commons, as ap- 
/ pears in our last chapter, Egremont 
had made a visit to his mother, who 



had married, since the commencement of this history, 
the Marquis of Deloraine, a great noble who had al- 
ways been her admirer. The family had been estab- 
lished by a lawyer, and recently in our history. The 
present Lord Deloraine, though he was gartered and 
had been a viceroy, was only the grandson of an at- 
torney, but one who, conscious of his powers, had 
been called to the bar and died an ex-chancellor. A 
certain talent was hereditary in the family. The at- 
torney's son had been a successful courtier, and had 
planted himself in the cabinet for a quarter of a cen- 
tury. It was a maxim in this family to make great 
alliances; so the blood progressively refined, and the 
connections were always distinguished by power and 
fashion. It was a great hit, in the second generation 
of an earldom, to convert the coronet into that of a 
marquis; but the son of the old chancellor lived in 



(298) 



SYBIL 



299 



stirring times, and cruised for his object with the 
same devoted patience with which Lord Anson watched 
for the galleon. It came at last, as everything does 
if men are firm and calm. The present marquis, 
through his ancestry and his first wife, was allied 
with the highest houses of the realm, and looked 
their peer. He might have been selected as the per- 
sonification of aristocracy : so noble was his appearance, 
so distinguished his manner; his bow gained every 
eye, his smile every heart. He was also very accom- 
plished, and not ill-informed; had read a little, and 
thought a little, and was in every respect a superior 
man; alike famed for his favour by the fair, and the 
constancy of his homage to the charming Lady Marney. 

Lord Deloraine was not rich; but he was not em- 
barrassed, and had the appearance of princely wealth; 
a splendid family mansion with a courtyard; a noble 
country seat with a magnificent park, including a 
quite celebrated lake, but with few farms attached to 
it. He, however, held a good patent place which had 
been conferred on his descendants by the old chancellor, 
and this brought in annually some thousands. His mar- 
riage with Lady Marney was quite an affair of the 
heart; her considerable jointure, however, did not di- 
minish the lustre of his position. 

It was this impending marriage, and the anxiety 
of Lady Marney to see Egremont's affairs settled be- 
fore it took place, which about a year and a half ago 
had induced her to summon him so urgently from 
Mowedale, which the reader perhaps may not have 
forgotten. And now Egremont is paying one of his 
almost daily visits to his mother at Deloraine House. 

'A truce to politics, my dear Charles,' said Lady 
Marney; 'you must be wearied with my inquiries. 



300 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Besides, I do not take the sanguine view of affairs in 
which some of our friends indulge. I am one of 
those who think the pear is not ripe. These men 
will totter on, and longer perhaps than even them- 
selves imagine. I want to speak of something very 
different. To-morrow, my dear son, is your birth- 
day. Now I should grieve were it to pass without 
your receiving something which showed that its recol- 
lection was cherished by your mother. But of all silly 
things in the world, the silliest is a present that is 
not wanted. It destroys the sentiment a little, per- 
haps, but it enhances the gift, if 1 ask you in the most 
literal manner to assist me in giving you something 
that really would please you.?' 

*But how can I, my dear mother?' said Egre- 
mont. ' You have ever been so kind and so generous 
that I literally want nothing.' 

*0h! you cannot be such a fortunate man as to 
want nothing, Charles,' said Lady Marney with a 
smile. 'A dressing-case you have; your rooms are 
furnished enough: all this is in my way; but there are 
such things as horses and guns, of which I know 
nothing, but which men always require. You must 
want a horse or a gun, Charles. Well, I should like 
you to get either; the finest, the most valuable that 
money can purchase. Or a brougham, Charles; what 
do you think of a new brougham ? Would you like 
that Barker should build you a brougham ? ' 

'You are too good, my dear mother. I have 
horses and guns enough; and my present carriage is 
all I can desire.' 

' You will not assist me, then ? You are resolved 
that I shall do something very stupid. For to give 
you something I am determined.' 



SYBIL 



301 



*WelI, my dear mother,' said Egremont smil- 
ing, and looking round, 'give me something that is 
here.' 

'Choose then,' said Lady Marney; and she looked 
round the satin walls of her apartment, covered with 
cabinet pictures of exquisite art, and then at her tables 
crowded with precious and fantastic toys. 

Mt would be plunder, my dear mother,' said Egre- 
mont. 

'No, no; you have said it; you shall choose some- 
thing. Will you have those vases?' and she pointed 
to an almost matchless specimen of old Sevres porce- 
lain. 

'They are in too becoming a position to be dis- 
turbed,' said Egremont, 'and would ill suit my quiet 
chambers, where a bronze or a marble is my greatest 
ornament. If you would permit me, I would rather 
choose a picture.' 

'Then select one at once,' said Lady Marney; 'I 
make no reservation, except that Watteau, for it was 
given to me by your father before we were married. 
Shall it be this Cuyp?' 

'I would rather choose this,' said Egremont; and 
he pointed to the portrait of a saint by Allori: the 
face of a beautiful young girl, radiant and yet solemn, 
with rich tresses of golden brown hair, and large eyes 
dark as night, fringed with ebon lashes that hung 
upon the glowing cheek. 

'Ah! you choose that! Well, that was a great 
favourite of poor Sir Thomas Lawrence. But for my 
part 1 have never seen any one in the least like it, 
and 1 think I am sure that you have not.' 

'It reminds me,' said Egremont musingly. 

'Of what you have dreamed,' said Lady Marney. 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Perhaps so,' said Egremont; 'indeed I think it 
must have been a dream.' 

'Well, the vision shall still hover before you,' said 
his mother; 'and you shall find this portrait to-mor- 
row over your chimney in the Albany.' 



CHAPTER XXXV. 




Social Influences. 

TRANGERS must withdraw.' 

'Division: clear the gallery. With- 
draw.' 

'Nonsense; no; it's quite ridicu- 
lous; quite absurd. Some fellow 
must get up. Send to the Carlton; 
send to the Reform; send to Brooks's. Are your men 
ready? No; are yours? I am sure I can't say. What 
does it mean? Most absurd! Are there many fellows 
in the library ? The smoking-room is quite full. All our 
men are paired till half-past eleven. It wants five 
minutes to the half-hour. What do you think of 
Trenchard's speech? 1 don't care for ourselves; I am 
sorry for him. Well, that is very charitable. With- 
draw, withdraw; you must withdraw.' 

' Where are you going, Fitz-Heron ? ' said a Con- 
servative whipling. 

M must go; I am paired till half-past eleven, and 
it wants some minutes, and my man is not here.' 
'Confound it!' 

* How will it go ?' 
"Gad ! I don't know.' 

* Fishy, eh?' 

(303) 



304 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

'Deuced!' said the under-whip in an undertone, 
pale, and speaking behind his teeth. 

The division bell was still ringing; peers and diplo- 
matists and strangers were turned out; members 
came rushing in from the library and smoking-room; 
some desperate cabs arrived just in time to land their 
passengers in the waiting-room. The doors were 
locked. 

The mysteries of the lobby are only for the 
initiated. Three quarters of an hour after the division 
was called, the result was known to the exoteric 
world. Majority for Ministers thirty-seven! Never 
had the opposition made such a bad division, and 
this too on their trial of strength for the session. 
Everything went wrong. Lord Milford was away 
without a pair. Mr. Ormsby, who had paired with 
Mr. Berners, never came, and let his man poll; for 
which he was infinitely accursed, particularly by the 
expectant twelve hundred a yearers, but, not wanting 
anything himself, and having an income of forty 
thousand pounds paid quarterly, Mr. Ormsby bore 
their reported indignation like a lamb. 

There were several other similar or analogous 
mischances; the Whigs contrived to poll Lord Grub- 
minster in a wheeled chair; he was unconscious, but 
had heard as much of the debate as a good many. 
Colonel Fantomme, on the other hand, could not 
come to time; the mesmerist had thrown him into a 
trance from which it was fated he never should 
awake: but the crash of the night was a speech 
made against the opposition by one of their own 
men, Mr. Trenchard, who voted with the Government. 

'The rest may be accounted for,' said Lady St. 
Julians to Lady Deloraine the morning after; Mt is 



SYBIL 



305 



simply vexatious; it was a surprise and will be a 
lesson: but this affair of this Mr. Trenchard — and they 
tell me that William Latimer was absolutely cheering 
him the whole time — what does it mean? Do you 
know the man?' 

'I have heard Charles speak of him, and I think 
much in his favour,' said Lady Deloraine; *if he were 
here, he would tell us more about it. I wonder he 
does not come: he never misses looking in after a 
great division and giving me all the news.' 

'Do you know, my dear friend,' said Lady St. 
Julians, with an air of some solemnity, 'I am half 
meditating a great move? This is not a time for 
trifling. It is all very well for these people to boast 
of their division of last night, but it was a surprise, 
and as great to them as to us. I know there is dis- 
sension in the camp; ever since that finality speech 
of Lord John, there has been a smouldering sedition. 
Mr. Tadpole knows all about it; he has liaisons with 
the frondeurs. This affair of Trenchard may do us 
the greatest possible injury. When it comes to a fair 
fight, the Government have not more than twelve or 
so. If Mr. Trenchard and three or four others choose 
to make themselves of importance, you see ? The 
danger is imminent, it must be met with decision.' 

*And what do you propose doing?' 

' Has he a wife?' 

M really do not know. I wish Charles would 
come, perhaps he could tell us.' 

*I have no doubt he has,' said Lady St. Julians. 
'One would have met him, somehow or other, in the 
course of two years, if he had not been married. 
Well, married or unmarried, with his wife, or with- 
out his wife, I shall send him a card for Wednesday.' 

14 B. D.— 20 



3o6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



And Lady St. Julians paused, overwhelmed as it were 
by the commensurate vastness of her idea and her 
sacrifice. 

*Do not you think it would be rather sudden?' 
said Lady Deloraine. 

'What does that signify? He will understand it; 
he will have gained his object; and all will be right.' 

* But are you sure it is his object ? We do not 
know the man.' 

'What else can be his object?' said Lady St. 
Julians. 'People get into Parliament to get on; their 
aims are indefinite. If they have indulged in halluci- 
nations about place before they enter the House, they 
are soon freed from such distempered fancies; they 
find they have no more talent than other people, and 
if they had, they learn that power, patronage, and 
pay are reserved for us and our friends. Well, then, 
hke practical men, they look to some result, and they 
get it. They are asked out to dinner more than they 
would be; they move rigmarole resolutions at non- 
sensical public meetings; and they get invited with 
their women to assemblies at their leader's, where 
they see stars and blue ribbons, and above all, us, 
who, they little think, in appearing on such occasions, 
make the greatest conceivable sacrifice. Well, then, 
of course such people are entirely in one's power, if 
one only had time and inclination to notice them. 
You can do anything with them. Ask them to a ball, 
and they will give you their votes; invite them to dinner, 
and, if necessary, they will rescind them; but culti- 
vate them, remember their wives at assemblies, and 
call their daughters, if possible, by their right names; 
and they will not only change their principles or 
desert their party for you, but subscribe their fortunes, 



SYBIL 



if necessary, and lay down their lives in your service.' 

'You paint them to the life, my dear Lady St. 
Julians,' said Lady Deloraine laughing; 'but, with 
such knowledge and such powers, why did you not 
save our boroughs?' 

'We had lost our heads then, I must confess,' 
said Lady St. Julians. 'What with the dear King 
and the dear Duke, we really had brought ourselves 
to believe that we lived in the days of Versailles or 
nearly; and I must admit I think we had become a 
little too exclusive. Out of the cottage circle, there 
was really no world, and after all we were lost, not 
by insulting the people, but by snubbing the aristoc- 
racy.' 

The servant announced Lady Firebrace. 'Oh! my 
dear Lady Deloraine. O! my dear Lady St. Julians!' 
and she shook her head. 

'You have no news, I suppose,' said Lady St. 
Julians. 

'Only about that dreadful Mr. Trenchard; you 
know the reason why he ratted?' 

'No, indeed,' said Lady St. Julians with a sigh. 

'An invitation to Lansdowne House, for himself 
and his wife ! ' 

'Oh! he is married, then?' 

'Yes; she is at the bottom of it all. Terms regu- 
larly settled beforehand. I have a note here; all the 
facts.' And Lady Firebrace twirled in her hand a 
bulletin from Mr. Tadpole. 

'Lansdowne House is destined to cross me,' said 
Lady St. Julians with bitterness. 

' Well, it is provoking,' said Lady Deloraine, 'when 
you had made up your mind to ask them for 
Wednesday.' 



3o8 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Yes, that alone is a sacrifice,' said Lady St. 
Julians. 

'Talking over the division, I suppose,' said Egre- 
mont as he entered. 

'Ah! Mr. Egremont,' said Lady St. Julians. 'What 
a hachis you made of it!' 

Lady Firebrace shook her head, as it were re- 
proachfully. 

'Charles,' said Lady Deloraine, 'we were talking 
of this Mr. Trenchard. Did I not once hear you say 
you knew something of him?' 

'Why, he is one of my intimate acquaintances.' 

'Heavens! what a man for a friend!' said Lady St. 
Julians. 

'Heavens!* echoed Lady Firebrace raising her 
hands. 

' And why did you not present him to me, 
Charles ? ' said Lady Deloraine. 

'1 did; at Lady Peel's.' 

'And why did you not ask him here.^^' 

'I did several times; but he would not come.' 

'He is going to Lansdowne House, though,' said 
Lady Firebrace. 

' I suppose you wrote the leading article in the 
Standard which I have just read,' said Egremont 
smiling. ' It announces in large type the secret 
reasons of Mr. Trenchard's vote.' 

'It is a fact,' said Lady Firebrace. 

'That Trenchard is going to Lansdowne House 
to-night; very likely. I have met him at Lansdowne 
House half-a-dozen times. He is intimate with the 
family, and lives in the same county.' 

'But his wife,' said Lady Firebrace; 'that's the 
point: he never could get his wife there before.' 



SYBIL 



309 



*He has none,' said Egremont quietly. 

'Then we may regain him,' said Lady St. Julians 
with energy. ' You shall make a little dinner to 
Greenwich, Mr. Egremont, and I will sit next to 
him.' 

' Fortunate Trenchard ! ' said Egremont. ' But, do 
you know, I fear he is hardly worthy of his lot. He 
has a horror of fine ladies; and there is nothing in 
the world he more avoids than what you call soci- 
ety. At home, as this morning when I breakfasted 
with him, or in a circle of his intimates, he is the 
best company in the world; no one so well informed, 
fuller of rich humour, and more sincerely amiable. 
He is popular with all who know him, except Taper, 
Lady St. Julians, Tadpole, and Lady Firebrace.' 

/Well, 1 think 1 will ask him still for Wednesday,' 
said Lady St. Julians; 'and I will write him a little 
note. If society is not his object, what is?' 

*Ay!' said Egremont, 'there is a great question 
for you and Lady Firebrace to ponder over. This is 
a lesson for you fine ladies, who think you can 
govern the world by what you call your social 
influences: asking people once or twice a year 
to an inconvenient crowd in your house; now 
haughtily smirking, and now impertinently staring 
at them; and flattering yourselves all this time, that 
to have the occasional privilege of entering your 
saloons, and the periodical experience of your inso- 
lent recognition, is to be a reward for great exertions, 
or, if necessary, an inducement to infamous tergiver- 
sation.' 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 




Torchlight Meeting. 



T WAS 
though 
and a 
were 
Moor. 



night; clear and serene, 
the moon had not risen; 
vast concourse of persons 
assembhng on Mowbray 
The chief gathering col- 



lected in the vicinity of some huge 
rocks, one of which, pre-eminent above its fellows, and 
having a broad flat head, on which some twenty per- 
sons might easily stand at the same time, was called the 
Druid's Altar. The ground about was strewn with stony 
fragments, covered to-night with human beings, who 
found a convenient resting-place amid these ruins of 
some ancient temple, or rehcs of some ancient world. 
The shadowy concourse increased, the dim circle of 
the nocturnal assemblage each moment spread and 
widened; there was the hum and stir of many thou- 
sands. Suddenly in the distance the sound of martial 
music: and instantly, quick as the Hghtning, and far 
more wild, each person present brandished a flaming 
torch, amid a chorus of cheers, that, renewed and re- 
sounding, floated far away over the broad bosom of 
the dusk wilderness. 

The music and the banners denoted the arrival of 
the leaders of the people. They mounted the craggy 
(310) 



SYBIL 



ascent that led to the summit of the Druid's Altar, 
and there, surrounded by his companions, amid the 
enthusiastic shouts of the multitude, Walter Gerard 
came forth to address a torchlight meeting. 

His tall form seemed colossal in the uncertain and 
flickering light, his rich and powerful voice reached 
almost to the limit of his vast audience, now still 
with expectation and silent with excitement. Their 
fixed and eager glance, the mouth compressed with 
fierce resolution or distended by novel sympathy, as 
they listened to the exposition of their wrongs, and 
the vindication of the sacred rights of labour; the 
shouts and waving of the torches as some bright or 
bold phrase touched them to the quick; the cause, 
the hour, the scene, all combined to render the assem- 
blage in a high degree exciting. 

*I wonder if Warner will speak to-night,' said 
Dandy Mick to Devilsdust. 

'He can't pitch it in like Gerard,' replied his com- 
panion. 

* But he is a trump in the tender,' said the Dandy. 
'The hand-looms looks to him as their man, and 
thaf s a powerful section.' 

' If you come to the depth of a question, there's 
nothing like Stephen Morley,' said Devilsdust. 
"Twould take six clergymen any day to settle him. 
He knows the principles of society by heart. But 
Gerard gets hold of the passions.' 

'And that's the way to do the trick,' said Dandy 
Mick. ' I wish he would say march, and no mis- 
take.' 

'There is a great deal to do before saying that,' 
said Devilsdust. ' We must have discussion, because 
when it comes to reasoning, the oligarchs have not 



312 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

got a leg to stand on; and we must stop the con- 
sumption of excisable articles, and when they have no 

tin to pay the bayonets and their b y police, they 

are dished.' 

' You have a long head, Dusty,' said Mick. 

* Why, I have been thinking of it ever since I knew 
two and two made four,' said his friend. M was 
not ten years old when I said to myself, it's a pretty 
go this, that I should be toiling in a shoddy-hole to 
pay the taxes for a gentleman what drinks his port 
wine and stretches his legs on a Turkey carpet. Hear, 
hear,' he suddenly exclaimed, as Gerard threw ofiF a 
stinging sentence. ' Ah! that's the man for the peo- 
ple. You will see, Mick, whatever happens, Gerard 
is the man who will always lead.' 

Gerard had ceased amid enthusiastic plaudits, and 
Warner, that hand-loom weaver whom the reader may 
recollect, and who had since became a popular leader 
and one of the principal followers of Gerard, had also 
addressed the multitude. They had cheered and 
shouted, and voted resolutions, and the business of 
the night was over. Now they were enjoined to dis- 
perse in order and depart in peace. The band sounded 
a triumphant retreat; the leaders had descended from 
the Druid's Altar; the multitude were melting away, 
bearing back to the town their high resolves and 
panting thoughts, and echoing in many quarters the 
suggestive appeals of those who had addressed them. 
Dandy Mick and Devilsdust departed together; the 
business of their night had not yet commenced, and 
it was an important one. 

They took their way to that suburb whither Ger- 
ard and Morley repaired the evening of their return 
from Marney Abbey; but it was not on this occasion 



SYBIL 



313 



to pay a visit to Chaffing Jack and his brilliant sa- 
loon. Winding through many obscure lanes, Mick 
and his friend at length turned into a passage which 
ended in a square court of a not inconsiderable size, 
and which was surrounded by high buildings that had 
the appearance of warehouses. Entering one of these, 
and taking up a dim lamp that was placed on the 
stone of an empty hearth, Devilsdust led his friend 
through several unoccupied and unfurnished rooms, 
until he came to one in which there were some signs 
of occupation. 

'Now, Mick,' said he, in a very earnest, almost 
solemn tone, 'are you firm.^' 

'All right, my hearty,' replied his friend, though 
not without some affectation of ease. 

'There is a good deal to go through,' said Devils- 
dust. 'It tries a man.' 

'You don't mean that?' 

' But if you are firm, all's right. Now I must leave 
you.' 

'No, no. Dusty,' said Mick. 

'I must go,' said Devilsdust; 'and you must rest 
here till you are sent for. Now mind, whatever is 
bid you, obey; and whatever you see, be quiet. 
There,' and Devilsdust taking a flask out of his 
pocket, held it forth to his friend, 'give a good pull, 
man; I can't leave it you, for though your heart must 
be warm, your head must be cool,' and so saying he 
vanished. 

Notwithstanding the animating draught, the heart 
of Mick Radley trembled. There are some moments 
when the nervous system defies even brandy. Mick 
was on the eve of a great and solemn incident, round 
which for years his imagination had gathered and 



314 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

brooded. Often in that imagination he had conceived 
the scene, and successfully confronted its perils or its 
trials. Often had the occasion been the drama of 
n>any a triumphant reverie, but the stern presence of 
reality had dispelled all his fancy and all his courage. 
He recalled the warning of Julia, who had often dis- 
suaded him from the impending step; that warning 
received with so much scorn and treated with so 
much levity. He began to think that women were 
always right; that Devilsdust was after all a danger- 
ous counsellor; he even meditated over the possibility 
of a retreat. He looked around him: the glimmering 
lamp scarcely indicated the outline of the obscure 
chamber. It was lofty, nor in the obscurity was it 
possible for the eye to reach the ceiling, which sev- 
eral huge beams seemed to cross transversely, loom- 
ing in the darkness. There was apparently no window, 
and the door by which they had entered was not easily 
to be recognised. Mick had just taken up the lamp 
and was surveying his position, when a slight noise 
startled him, and looking round he beheld at some 
little distance two forms which he hoped were hu- 
man. 

Enveloped in dark cloaks and wearing black masks, 
a conical cap of the same colour adding to their con- 
siderable height, each held a torch. They stood in 
silence, two awful sentries. 

Their appearance appalled, their stillness terrified 
Mick: he remained with his mouth open, and the 
lamp in his extended hand. At length, unable any 
longer to sustain the solemn mystery, and plucking 
up his natural audacity, he exclaimed, ' 1 say, what 
do you want?' 

All was silent. 



SYBIL 



*Come, come,' said Mick, much alarmed; * none 
of this sort of thing. I say, you must speak though.' 

The figures advanced; they stuck their torches in 
a niche that was by; and then they placed each of 
them a hand on the shoulder of Mick. 

'No, no; none of that,' said Mick, trying to dis- 
embarrass himself. 

But, notwithstanding this fresh appeal, one of the 
silent masks pinioned his arms; and in a moment the 
eyes of the helpless friend of Devilsdust were band- 
aged. 

Conducted by these guides, it seemed to Mick 
that he was traversing interminable rooms, or rather 
galleries, for, once stretching out his arm, while one of 
his supporters had momentarily quitted him to open 
some gate or door, Mick touched a wall. At length 
one of the masks spoke, and said, Mn five minutes 
you will be in the presence of the Seven: prepare.' 

At this moment rose the sound of distant voices 
singing in concert, and gradually increasing in volume 
as Mick and the masks advanced. One of these at- 
tendants now notifying to their charge that he must 
kneel down, Mick found he rested on a cushion, 
while at the same time, his arms still pinioned, he 
seemed to be left alone. 

The voices became louder and louder; Mick could 
distinguish the words and burthen of the hymn; he 
was sensible that many persons were entering the 
apartment; he could distinguish the measured tread 
of some solemn procession. Round the chamber, 
more than once, they moved with slow and awful 
step. Suddenly that movement ceased; there was a 
pause of a few minutes; at length a voice spoke. *I 
denounce John Briars.' 



3i6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Why?' said another. 

'He offers to take nothing but piece-work; the 
man who does piece-work is guilty of less defensible 
conduct than a drunkard. The worst passions of our 
nature are enlisted in support of piece-work. Avarice, 
meanness, cunning, hypocrisy, all excite and feed upon 
the miserable votary who works by the task and not 
by the hour. A man who earns by piece-work forty 
shillings per week, the usual wages for day-work 
being twenty, robs his fellows of a week's employ- 
ment; therefore 1 denounce John Briars.' 

*Let it go forth,' said the other voice; 'John Briars 
is denounced. If he receive another week's wages by 
the piece, he shall not have the option of working 
the week after for time. No. 87, see to John Briars.' 

*I denounce Claughton and Hicks,' said another 
voice. 

'Why?' 

'They have removed Gregory Ray from being a 
superintendent because he belonged to this lodge.' 

' Brethren, is it your pleasure that there shall be a 
turn-out for ten days at Claughton and Hicks ? ' 

'It is our pleasure,' cried several voices. 

'No. 34, give orders to-morrow that the works at 
Claughton and Hicks stop till further orders.' 

'Brethren,' said another voice, '1 propose the ex- 
pulsion from this union of any member who shall 
be known to boast of his superior ability as to either 
the quantity or quality of work he can do, either in 
pubhc or private company. Is it your pleasure?' 

'It is our pleasure.' 

'Brethren,' said a voice that seemed a presiding 
one, ' before we proceed to the receipt of the revenue 
from the different districts of this lodge, there is, I 



SYBIL 



am informed, a stranger present, who prays to be ad- 
mitted into our fraternity. Are all robed in the mys- 
tic robe? Are all masked in the secret mask?' 
^ All!' 

'Then let us pray!' And thereupon, after a move- 
ment which intimated that all present were kneeling, 
the presiding voice offered up an extemporary prayer 
of power and even eloquence. This was succeeded 
by the Hymn of Labour, and at its conclusion the 
arms of the neophyte were unpinioned, and then his 
eyes were unbandaged. 

Mick found himself in a lofty and spacious room 
lighted with many tapers. Its walls were hung with 
black cloth; at a table covered with the same ma- 
terial, were seated seven persons in surphces and 
masked, the President on a loftier seat; above which, 
on a pedestal, was a skeleton complete. On each 
side of the skeleton was a man robed and masked, 
holding a drawn sword; and on each side of Mick 
was a man in the same garb holding a battle-axe. 
On the table was the sacred volume open, and at a 
distance, ranged in order on each side of the room, 
was a row of persons in white robes and white 
masks, and holding torches. 

'Michael Radley,' said the President, 'Do you 
voluntarily swear, in the presence of Almighty God 
and before these witnesses, that you will execute 
with zeal and alacrity, so far as in you lies, every 
task and injunction that the majority of your breth- 
ren, testified by the mandate of this grand committee, 
shall impose upon you, in furtherance of our common 
welfare, of which they are the sole judges; such as 
the chastisement of nobs, the assassination of oppress- 
ive and tyrannical masters, or the demolition of all 



3i8 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



mills, works and shops that shall be deemed by us 
incorrigible? Do you swear this in the presence of 
Almighty God, and before these witnesses ? ' 

'I do swear it,' replied a tremulous voice. 

*Then rise and kiss that book.' 

Mick slowly rose from his kneeling position, ad- 
vanced with a trembling step, and bending, embraced 
with reverence the open volume. 

Immediately every one unmasked; Devilsdust came 
forward, and taking Mick by the hand, led him to 
the President, who received him pronouncing some 
mystic rhymes. He was covered with a robe and 
presented with a torch, and then ranged in order 
with his companions. Thus terminated the initiation 
of Dandy Mick into a Trades Union. 



CHAPTER X XXVII. 




The Rights of the Masses. 

IS lordship has not yet rung his bell, 
gentlemen.' 

It was the valet of Lord Milford 
that spoke, addressing from the 
door of a house in Belgrave Square, 
about noon, a deputation from the 
National Convention, consisting of two of its dele- 
gates, who waited on the young viscount, in common 
with other members of the legislature, in order to 
call his particular attention to the national petition 
which the Convention had prepared, and which, in 
the course of the session, was to be presented by 
one of the members for Birmingham. 

*I fear we are too early for these fine birds,' said 
one delegate to the other. *Who is next on our 
list ? ' 

'No. 27, — Street, close by; Mr. Thorough Base: 
he ought to be with the people, for his father was 
only a fiddler; but I understand he is quite an aristo- 
crat, and has married a widow of quality.' 

'Well, knock.' 

Mr. Thorough Base was not at home; had re- 
ceived the card of the delegates apprising him of the 

(319) 



320 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



honour of their intended visit, but had made up his 
mind on the subject. 

No. 1 8 in the same street received them more 
courteously. Here resided Mr. KremHn, who, after 
hstening with patience, if not with interest, to their 
^statement, apprised them that forms of government 
were of no consequence, and domestic policy of no 
interest; that there was only one subject which should 
engage the attention of public men, because every- 
thing depended on it; that was, our external system; 
and that the only specific for a revival of trade and 
the contentment of the people, was a general settle- 
ment of the boundary questions. Finally, Mr. Kremlin 
urged upon the National Convention to recast their 
petition with this view, assuring them that on for- 
eign policy they would have the public with them. 

The deputation, in reply, might have referred, as 
an evidence of the general interest excited by ques- 
tions of foreign policy, to the impossibility even of a 
leader making a house on one; and to the fact, that 
there are not three men in the House of Commons 
who even pretend to have any acquaintance with the 
external circumstances of the country; they might 
have added, that, even in such an assembly, Mr. 
KremHn himself was distinguished for ignorance, for 
he had only one idea, and that was wrong. 

Their next visit was to Wriggle, a member for a 
metropolitan district, a disciple of progress, who went 
with the times but who took particular good care to 
ascertain their complexion; and whose movements if 
expedient could partake of a regressive character. As 
the charter might some day turn up trumps, as well 
as so many other unexpected cards and colours. 
Wriggle gave his adhesion to it, but, of course, only 



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321 



provisionally; provided, that is to say, he might vote 
against it at present. But he saw no harm in it, not 
he, and should be prepared to support it when cir- 
cumstances, that is to say, the temper of the times, 
would permit him. More could hardly be expected 
from a gentleman in the delicate position in which 
Wriggle found himself at this moment, for he had 
solicited a baronetcy of the Whigs, and had secretly 
pledged himself to Taper to vote against them on the 
impending Jamaica division. 

Bombastes Rip snubbed them, which was hard, for 
he had been one of themselves, had written confi- 
dential letters in 1831 to the secretary of the Treasury, 
and, 'provided his expenses were paid,* offered to 
come up from the manufacturing town he now rep- 
resented, at the head of a hundred thousand men, 
and burn down Apsley House. But now Bombastes 
Rip talked of the great middle class; of public order 
and public credit. He would have said more to 
them, but had an appointment in the city, being an 
active member of the committee for raising a statue 
to the Duke of Wellington. 

Floatwell received them in the politest manner, 
though he did not agree with them. What he did 
agree with it was difficult to say. Clever, brisk, and 
bustling, with a university reputation, and without 
patrimony, Floatwell shrunk from the toils of a pro- 
fession, and in the hurry-skurry of reform found him- 
self to his astonishment a Parhament man. There he 
had remained, but why, the Fates alone knew. The 
fun of such a thing must have evaporated with the 
novelty. Floatwell had entered public life in complete 
ignorance of every subject which could possibly en- 
gage the attention of a public man. He knew noth- 

14 B. D.— 21 



322 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



ing of history, national or constitutional law, had 
indeed none but puerile acquirements, and had seen 
nothing of life. Assiduous at committees, he gained 
those superficial habits of business which are compe- 
tent to the conduct of ordinary affairs, and picked up 
in time some of the slang of economical questions. 
Floatwell began at once with a little success, and he 
kept his little success; nobody envied him it; he 
hoarded his sixpences without exciting any evil 
emulation. He was one of those characters who 
above all things shrink from isolation, and who imag- 
ine they are getting on if they are keeping company 
with some who stick like themselves. He was al- 
ways an idolater of some great personage who was 
on the shelf, and, who, he was convinced, because 
the great personage assured him of it after dinner, 
would sooner or later turn out the man. At present, 
Floatwell swore by Lord Dunderhead; and the game 
of this little coterie, who dined together and thought 
they were a party, was to be courteous to the Con- 
vention. 

After the endurance of an almost interminable lec- 
ture on the currency from Mr. Kite, who would 
pledge himself to the character if the charter would 
pledge itself to one-pound notes, the two delegates 
had arrived in Piccadilly, and the next member upon 
the list was Lord Valentine. 

Mt is two o'clock,' said one of the delegates, M 
think we may venture;' so they knocked at the portal 
of the court yard, and found they were awaited. 

A private staircase led to the suite of rooms of 
Lord Valentine, who lived in the family mansion. 
The delegates were ushered through an antechamber 
into a saloon which opened into a fanciful conserva- 



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323 



tory, where amid taJI tropical plants played a foun- 
tain. The saloon was hung with blue satin, and 
adorned with brilliant mirrors; its coved ceiling was 
richly painted, and its furniture became the rest of its 
decorations. On one sofa were a number of port- 
folios, some open, full of drawings of costumes; a 
table of pietra dura was covered with richly-boimd 
volumes that appeared to have been recently referred 
to; several ancient swords of extreme beauty were 
lying on a couch; in a corner of the room was a fig- 
ure in complete armour, black and gold, richly inlaid, 
and grasping in its gauntlet the ancient standard of 
England. 

The two delegates of the National Convention 
stared at each other, as if to express their surprise 
that a dweller in such an abode should ever have 
permitted them to enter it; but ere either of them 
could venture to speak. Lord Valentine made his ap- 
pearance. 

He was a young man, above the middle height, 
slender, broad-shouldered, small-waisted, of a grace- 
ful presence; he was very fair, with dark blue eyes, 
bright and intelligent, and features of classic precision ; 
a small Greek cap crowned his long light-brown hair, 
and he was enveloped in a morning robe of Indian 
shawls. 

*Well, gentlemen,' said his lordship, as he invited 
them to be seated, in a clear and cheerful voice, and 
with an unaffected tone of frankness which put his 
guests at their ease; M promised to see you; well, 
what have you got to say?' 

The delegates made their accustomed statement; 
they wished to pledge no one; all that the people 
desired was a respectful discussion of their claims; 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



the national petition, signed by nearly a million and 
a half of the flower of the working-classes, was 
shortly to be presented to the House of Commons, 
praying the House to take into consideration the five 
points in which the working-classes deemed their best 
interests involved; to wit, universal suffrage, vote by 
ballot, annual parliaments, salaried members, and the 
abolition of the property qualification. 

'And supposing these five points conceded,' said 
Lord Valentine, 'what do you mean to do?' 

'The people then being at length really represented,' 
replied one of the delegates, ' they would decide upon 
the measures which the interests of the great majority 
require.' 

M am not so clear about that,' said Lord Valentine; 
'that is the very point at issue. I do not think the 
great majority are the best judges of their own inter- 
ests. At all events, gentlemen, the respective advan- 
tages of aristocracy and democracy are a moot point. 
Well, then, finding the question practically settled in 
this country, you will excuse me for not wishing to 
agitate it. I give you complete credit for the sincer- 
ity of your convictions; extend the same confidence 
to me. You are democrats; I am an aristocrat. My 
family has been ennobled for nearly three centuries; 
they bore a knightly name before their elevation. 
They have mainly and materially assisted in making 
England what it is. They have shed their blood in 
many battles; I have had two ancestors killed in the 
command of our fleets. You will not underrate such 
services, even if you do not appreciate their conduct 
as statesmen, though that has often been laborious, 
and sometimes distinguished. The finest trees in 
England were planted by my family; they raised 



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325 



several of your most beautiful churches; they have 
built bridges, made roads, dug mines, and constructed 
canals, and drained a marsh of a million of acres 
which bears our name to this day, and is now one 
of the most flourishing portions of the country. You 
talk of our taxation and our wars; and of your inven- 
tions and your industry. Our wars converted an is- 
land into an empire, and at any rate developed that 
industry and stimulated those inventions of which 
you boast. You tell me that you are the delegates 
of the unrepresented working-classes of Mowbray. 
Why, what would Mowbray have been if it had not 
been for your aristocracy and their wars ? Your town 
would not have existed; there would have been no 
working-classes there to send up delegates. In fact, 
you owe your very existence to us. I have told you 
what my ancestors have done; I am prepared, if the 
occasion requires it, not to disgrace them; I have in- 
herited their great position, and I tell you fairly, gen- 
tlemen, I will not relinquish it without a struggle.' 

'Will you combat the people in that suit of 
armour, my lord?' said one of the delegates smiling, 
but in a tone of kindness and respect. 

'That suit of armour has combated for the people 
before this,' said Lord Valentine, 'for it stood by 
Simon de Montfort on the field of Evesham.' 

'My lord,' said the other delegate, 'it is well 
known that you come from a great and honoured 
race; and we have seen enough to-day to show that 
in intelligence and spirit you are not unworthy of 
your ancestry. But the great question, which your 
lordship has introduced, not we, is not to be decided 
by a happy instance. Your ancestors may have done 
great things. What wonder! They were members 



326 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



of a very limited class, which had the monopoly of 
action. And the people, have not they shed their 
blood in battle, though they may have commanded 
fleets less often than your lordship's relatives? And 
these mines and canals that you have excavated and 
constructed, these woods you have planted, these 
waters you have drained: had the people no hand in 
these creations ? What share in these great works 
had that faculty of labour whose sacred claims we 
now urge, but which for centuries have been passed 
over in contemptuous silence? No, my lord, we call 
upon you to decide this question by the result. The 
aristocracy of England have had for three centuries 
the exercise of power; for the last century and a half 
that exercise has been uncontrolled; they form at this 
moment the most prosperous class that the history of 
the world can furnish : as rich as the Roman senators, 
with sources of convenience and enjoyment which 
modern science could alone supply. All this is not 
denied. Your order stands before Europe the most 
gorgeous of existing spectacles; though you have of 
late years dexterously thrown some of the odium of 
your polity upon that middle class which you despise, 
and who are despicable only because they imitate you, 
your tenure of power is not in reality impaired. You 
govern us still with absolute authority, and you govern 
the most miserable people on the face of the globe.' 

'And is this a fair description of the people of 
England?' said Lord Valentine. *A flash of rhetoric, 
I presume, that would place them lower than the 
Portuguese or the Poles, the serfs of Russia, or the laz- 
zaroni of Naples.' 

'Infinitely lower,' said the delegate, 'for they are 
not only degraded, but conscious of their degradation. 



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327 



They no longer believe in any innate difference 
between the governing and the governed classes of 
this country. They are sufficiently enlightened to feel 
they are victims. Compared with the privileged 
classes of their own land, they are in a lower state 
than any other population compared with its privi- 
leged classes. All is relative, my lord, and believe 
me, the relations of the working-classes of England 
to its privileged orders are relations of enmity, and 
therefore of peril.' 

*The people must have leaders,* said Lord Valen- 
tine. 

'And they have found them,' said the delegate. 

'When it comes to a push they will follow their 
nobility,' said Lord Valentine. 

'Will their nobility lead them?' said the other 
delegate. 'For my part, I do not pretend to be a 
philosopher, and if I saw a Simon de Montfort again 
I should be content to fight under his banner.' 

'We have an aristocracy of wealth,' said the dele- 
gate who had chiefly spoken. 'In a progressive 
civilisation, wealth is the only means of class distinc- 
tion: but a new disposition of wealth may remove 
even this.' 

'Ah! you want to get at our estates,' said Lord 
Valentine, smiling; 'but the effort on your part may 
resolve society into its original elements, and the old 
sources of distinction may again develop themselves.' 

' Tall barons will not stand against Paixhans' rock- 
ets,* said the delegate. ' Modern science has vindicated 
the natural equality of man.' 

'And I must say I am very sorry for it,' said the 
other delegate; 'for human strength always seems to 
me the natural process of settling affairs.' 



328 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'\ am not surprised at your opinion,' said Lord 
Valentine, turning to the delegate and smiling. 'I 
should not be over-glad to meet you in a fray. You 
stand some inches above six feet or I am mistaken.' 

M was six feet two inches when I stopped grow- 
ing,' said the delegate; *and age has not stolen any 
of my height yet.* 

'That suit of armour would fit you,' said Lord 
Valentine, as they all rose. 

'And might I ask your lordship,' said the tall del- 
egate, 'why it is here?' 

* I am to represent Richard Coeur de Lion at the 
Queen's ball,' said Lord Valentine; 'and before my 
Sovereign I will not don a Drury Lane cuirass, so I 
got this up from my father's castle.' 

'Ah! I almost wish the good old times of Coeur 
de Lion were here again,' said the tall delegate. 

'And we should be serfs,' said his companion. 

'I am not sure of that,' said the tall delegate. 'At 
any rate there was the free forest.' 

'I like that young fellow,' said the tall delegate to 
his companion, as they descended the staircase. 

'He has awful prejudices,' said his friend. 

'Well, well; he has his opinions, and we have 
ours. But he is a man; with clear, straightforward 
ideas, a frank, noble presence; and as good-looking a 
fellow as I ever set eyes on. Where are we now?' 

' We have only one more name on our list to-day, 
and it is at hand. Letter K, No. i, Albany. Another 
member of the aristocracy, the Honourable Charles 
Egremont.' 

'Well, 1 prefer them, so far as I can judge, to 
Wriggle, and Rip, and Thorough Base,' said the tall 
delegate laughing. ' I dare say we should have found 



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329 



Lord Milford a very jolly fellow, if he had only been 
up.' 

'Here we are,' said his companion, as he knocked. 
'Mr. Egremont, is he at home?' 

' The gentlemen of the deputation ? Yes, my mas- 
ter gave particular orders that he was at home to you. 
Will you walk in, gentlemen ? ' 

'There, you see,' said the tall delegate. 'This 
would be a lesson to Thorough Base.' 

They sat down in an antechamber; the servant 
opened a mahogany folding-door which he shut after 
him, and announced to his master the arrival of the 
delegates. Egremont was seated in his library, at a 
round table covered with writing materials, books, and 
letters. On another table were arranged his parlia- 
mentary papers, and piles of blue books. The room was 
classically furnished. On the mantelpiece were some 
ancient vases, which he had brought with him from 
Italy, standing on each side of that picture of Allori 
of which we have spoken. 

The servant returned to the anteroom, and an- 
nouncing to the delegates that his master was ready 
to receive them, ushered into the presence of Egre- 
mont, Walter Gerard and Stephen Morley. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 




Westminster Abbey. 



T IS much to be deplored that our sa- 
cred buildings are generally closed, 
except at the stated periods of 
public resort. It is still more to 
/ be regretted that, when with difli- 
culty entered, there is so much in 



their arrangements to offend the taste and outrage 
the feelings. In the tumult of life, a few minutes oc- 
casionally passed in the solemn shadow of some lofty 
and ancient aisle, exercise very often a salutary in- 
fluence: they purify the heart and elevate the mind; 
dispel many haunting fancies, and prevent many an 
act which otherwise might be repented. The church 
would in this light still afford us a sanctuary; not 
against the power of the law but against the violence 
of our own will; not against the passions of man 
but against our own. 

The Abbey of Westminster rises amid the strife of 
factions. Around its consecrated precincts some of 
the boldest and some of the worst deeds have been 
achieved or perpetrated; sacrilege, rapine, murder, and 
treason. Here robbery has been practised on the 
greatest scale known in modern ages: here ten thou- 



(330) 



SYBIL 



331 



sand manors, belonging to the order of the Templars, 
without any proof, scarcely with a pretext, were for- 
feited in one day and divided among the monarch 
and his chief nobles; here the great estate of the 
Church, which, whatever its articles of faith, belonged 
and still belongs to the people, was seized at various 
times, under various pretences, by an assembly that 
continually changed the religion of their country and 
their own by a parliamentary majority, but which 
never refunded the booty. Here too was brought 
forth that monstrous conception which even patrician 
Rome in its most ruthless period never equalled, the 
mortgaging of the industry of the country to enrich 
and to protect property; an act which is now bring- 
ing its retributive consequences in a degraded and 
alienated population. Here too have the innocent 
been impeached and hunted to death; and a virtuous 
and able monarch martyred, because, among other 
benefits projected for his people, he was of opinion 
that it was more for their advantage that the eco- 
nomic service of the state should be supplied by di- 
rect taxation levied by an individual known to all, 
than by indirect taxation, raised by an irresponsible 
and fluctuating assembly. But, thanks to parliamen- 
tary patriotism, the people of England were saved 
from ship-money, which money the wealthy paid, 
and only got in its stead the customs and excise, 
which the poor mainly supply. Rightly was King 
Charles surnamed the Martyr; for he was the holocaust 
of direct taxation. Never yet did man lay down his 
heroic life for so great a cause: the cause of the 
Church and the cause of the poor. 

Even now. in the quiet times in which we live, when 
public robbery is out of fashion and takes the milder 



332 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



title of a commission of inquiry, and when there is 
no treason except voting against a Minister, who, 
though he may have changed all the policy which 
you have been elected to support, expects your vote 
and confidence all the same; even in this age of mean 
passions and petty risks, it is something to step aside 
from Palace Tard, and instead of listening to a dull 
debate, where the facts are only a repetition of the 
blue books you have already read, and the fancy an 
ingenious appeal to the recrimination of Hansard, to 
enter the old Abbey and listen to an anthem! 

This was a favourite habit of Egremont, and, 
though the mean discipline and sordid arrangements 
of the ecclesiastical body to which the guardianship 
of the beautiful edifice is intrusted have certainly done 
all that could injure and impair the holy genius of 
the place, it still was a habit often full of charm and 
consolation. 

There is not perhaps another metropolitan popula- 
tion in the world that would tolerate such conduct as 
is pursued to 'that great lubber, the public,' by the 
Dean and Chapter of Westminster, and submit in si- 
lence to be shut out from the only building in the 
two cities which is worthy of the name of a cathedral. 
But the British public will bear anything; they are so 
busy in speculating in railway shares. 

When Egremont had entered on his first visit to 
the Abbey by the south transept, and beheld the 
boards and the spikes with which he seemed to be en- 
vironed, as if the Abbey were in a state of siege; iron 
gates shutting him out from the solemn nave and the 
shadowy aisles; scarcely a glimpse to be caught of a 
single window; while on a dirty form some noisy 
vergers sat like ticket-porters or babbled like tapsters 



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333 



at their ease, the visions of abbatial perfection, in 
which he had early and often indulged among the 
ruins of Marney, rose on his outraged sense, and he 
was then about hastily to retire from the scene he had 
so long purposed to visit, when suddenly the organ 
burst forth, a celestial symphony floated in the lofty 
roof, and voices of plaintive melody blended with the 
swelling sounds. He was fixed to the spot. 

Perhaps it was some similar feeling that influenced 
another individual on the day after the visit of the 
deputation to Egremont. The sun, though in his sum- 
mer heaven he had still a long course, had passed his 
meridian by many hours, the service was performing 
in the choir, and a few persons entering by the door 
into that part of the Abbey Church which is so well 
known by the name of Poets' Corner, proceeded 
through the unseemly stockade which the chapter 
have erected, and took their seats. One only, a fe- 
male, declined to pass, notwithstanding the officious 
admonitions of the vergers that she had better move 
on, but approaching the iron grating that shut her 
out from the body of the church, looked wistfully 
down the long dim perspective of the beautiful south- 
ern aisle. And thus motionless she remained in con- 
templation, or it might be prayer, while the solemn 
peals of the organ and the sweet voices of the choir 
enjoyed that holy liberty for which she sighed, and 
seemed to wander at their will in every sacred recess 
and consecrated corner. 

The sounds, those mystical and thrilling sounds 
that at once exalt the soul and touch the heart, ceased ; 
the chanting of the service recommenced; the motion- 
less form moved; and as she moved Egremont came 
forth from the choir, and his eye was at once caught 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



by the symmetry of her shape and the picturesque 
position which she gracefully occupied; still gazing 
through that grate, while the light, pouring through 
the western window, suffused the body of the church 
with a soft radiance, just touching the head of the 
unknown with a kind of halo. Egremont approached 
the transept door with a lingering pace, so that the 
stranger, who he observed was preparing to leave 
the church, might overtake him. As he reached the 
door, anxious to assure himself that he was not mis- 
taken, he turned round and his eye at once caught 
the face of Sybil. He started, he trembled; she was 
not two yards distant, she evidently recognized him; 
he held open the swinging postern of the Abbey that 
she might pass, which she did, and then stopped on 
the outside, and said 'Mr. Franklin!' 

It was therefore clear that her father had not 
thought fit, or had not yet had an opportunity, to 
communicate to Sybil the interview of yesterday. 
Egremont was still Mr. Franklin. This was perplex- 
ing. Egremont would have liked to be saved the 
pain and awkwardness of the avowal, yet it must be 
made, though not with unnecessary crudeness. And 
so at present he only expressed his delight, the unex- 
pected delight he experienced at their meeting. And 
then he walked on by her side. 

'Indeed,' said Sybil, 'I can easily imagine you 
must have been surprised at seeing me in this great 
city. But many things, strange and unforeseen, have 
happened to us since you were at Mowedale. You 
know, of course, you with your pursuits must know, 
that the people have at length resolved to summon 
their own Parliament in Westminster. The people of 
Mowbray had to send up two delegates to the Con- 



SYBIL 



335 



vention, and they chose my father for one of them. 
For, so great is their confidence in him, none other 
would content them.' 

'He must have made a great sacrifice incoming?' 
said Egremont. 

* Oh ! what are sacrifices in such a cause ? ' said 
Sybil. 'Yes; he made great sacrifices,' she continued 
earnestly; 'great sacrifices, and I am proud of them. 
Our home, which was a happy home, is gone; he 
has quitted the Traffords, to whom we were knit by 
many, many ties,' and her voice faltered, 'and for 
whom, I know well he would have perilled his life. 
And now we are parted,' said Sybil, with a sigh, 
' perhaps for ever. They offered to receive me under 
their roof,' she continued, with emotion. ' Had I 
needed shelter there was another roof which has long 
awaited me; but I could not leave my father at such a 
moment. He appealed to me; and I am here. All I 
desire, all I live for, is to soothe and support him in 
his great struggle; and I should die content if the 
people were only free, and a Gerard had freed 
them.' 

Egremont mused: he must disclose all, yet how 
embarrassing to enter into such explanations in a pub- 
lic thoroughfare! Should he bid her after a while fare- 
well, and then make his confession in writing? Should 
he at once accompany her home, and there offer his 
perplexing explanations? Or should he acknowledge 
his interview of yesterday with Gerard, and then leave 
the rest to the natural consequences of that acknowl- 
edgment when Sybil met her father? Thus ponder- 
ing, Egremont and Sybil quitting the court of the 
Abbey, entered Abingdon Street. 

'Let me walk home with you,' said Egremont, as 



336 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Sybil seemed to intimate her intention here to sep- 
arate. 

'My father is not there,' said Sybil; 'but I will 
not fail to tell him that I have met his old com- 
panion.* 

'Would he had been as frank!' thought Egre- 
mont. And must he quit her in this way ? Impossible. 
'You must indeed let me attend you!' he said aloud. 

'It is not far,' said Sybil. 'We live almost in the 
Precinct, in an old house, with some kind old peo- 
ple, the brother of one of the nuns of Mowbray. 
The nearest way to it is straight along this street, 
but that is too bustling for me. I have discovered,' 
she added with a smile, 'a more tranquil path.' And 
guided by her, they turned up College Street. 

'And how long have you been in London?* 

'A fortnight. 'Tis a great prison. How strange 
it is that, in a vast city like this, one can scarcely 
walk alone!' 

'You want Harold,' said Egremont. 'How is that 
most faithful of friends?' 

'Poor Harold! To part with him was a pang.* 

'I fear your hours must be heavy,' said Egremont. 

'Oh! no,' said Sybil, 'there is so much at stake; 
so much to hear the moment my father returns. I 
take so much interest too in their discussions; and 
sometimes I go to hear him speak. None of them 
can compare with him. It seems to me that it 
would be impossible to resist our claims if our rulers 
only heard them from his lips.' 

Egremont smiled. 'Your Convention is in its 
bloom, or rather its bud,' he said; 'all is fresh and 
pure now; but a little while and it will find the fate 
of all popular assemblies. You will have factions.' 



SYBIL 



337 



*But why?' said Sybil. *They are the real repre- 
sentatives of the people, and all that the people want 
is justice; that labour should be as much respected 
by law and society as property.' 

While they thus conversed, they passed through 
several clean, still streets, that had rather the appear- 
ance of streets in a very quiet country town, than of 
abodes in the greatest city in the world, and in the 
vicinity of palaces and parliaments. Rarely was a 
shop to be remarked among the neat little tene- 
ments, many of them built of curious old brick, 
and all of them raised without any regard to sym- 
metry or proportion. Not the sound of a single 
wheel was heard; sometimes not a single indi- 
vidual was visible or stirring. Making a circui- 
tous course through this tranquil and orderly district, 
they at last found themselves in an open place in the 
centre of which rose a church of vast proportions, 
and built of hewn stone in that stately, not to 
say ponderous, style which Vanbrugh introduced. 

The area round it, sufficiently ample, was formed 
by buildings, generally of a mean character: the 
long back premises of a carpenter, the straggling 
yard of a hackney-man; sometimes a small, narrow 
isolated private residence, like a waterspout in which 
a rat might reside; sometimes a group of houses of 
more pretension. In the extreme corner of this area, 
which was dignified by the name of Smith's Square, 
instead of taking a more appropriate title from the 
church of St. John which it encircled, was a large 
old house, that had been masked at the beginning of 
the century with a modern front of pale-coloured 
bricks, but which still stood in its courtyard sur- 
rounded by its iron railings, withdrawn as it were 



338 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



from the vulgar gaze like an individual who had 
known higher fortunes, and blending with his humil- 
ity something of the reserve which is prompted by 
the memory of vanished greatness. 

'This is my home,' said Sybil. *It is a still place, 
and suits us well.' 

Near the house was a narrow passage which was 
a thoroughfare into the most populous quarter of the 
neighbourhood. As Egremont was opening the gate 
of the courtyard, Gerard ascended the steps of this 
passage, and approached them. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 




A Maker of Peers. 

HEN Gerard and Morley quitted the 
Albany after their visit to Egre- 
mont, they separated, and Stephen, 
whom we will accompany, pro- 
ceeded in the direction of the 
Temple, in the vicinity of which he 
himself lodged, and where he was about to visit a 
brother journalist, who occupied chambers in that 
famous inn of court. As he passed under Temple 
Bar his eye caught a portly gentleman stepping out 
of a public cab, with a bundle of papers in his hand, 
and immediately disappearing through that well-known 
archway which Morley was on the point of reaching. 
The gentleman indeed was still in sight, descending 
the way, when Morley entered, who observed him 
drop a letter. Morley hailed him, but in vain; and 
fearing the stranger might disappear in one of the 
many inextricable courts, and so lose his letter, he 
ran forward, picked up the paper, and then pushed 
on to the person who dropped it, calling out so fre- 
quently that the stranger at length began to suspect 
that he himself might be the object of the salute, and 
stopped and looked round. Morley almost mechanic- 
ally glanced at the outside of the letter, the seal of 

(339) 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



which was broken, and which was however addressed 
to a name that immediately fixed his interest. The 
direction was to 'Baptist Hatton, Esq., Inner Temple.' 

'This letter is, I believe, addressed to you. Sir,' 
said Morley, looking very intently upon the person to 
whom he spoke, a portly man and a comely; florid, 
gentleman-like, but with as little of the expression 
which Morley in imagination had associated with that 
Hatton over whom he once pondered, as can easily 
be imagined. 

*Sir, 1 am extremely obliged to you,' said the 
strange gentleman; 'the letter belongs to me, though 
it is not addressed to me. I must have this moment 
dropped it. My name. Sir, is Firebrace, Sir Vavasour 
Firebrace, and this letter is addressed to a — a — not 
exactly my lawyer, but a gentleman, a professional 
gentleman, whom I am in the habit of frequently see- 
ing; daily, I may say. He is employed in a great 
question in which I am deeply interested. Sir, I am 
vastly obliged to you, and I trust that you are satis- 
fied.' 

'Oh! perfectly. Sir Vavasour;' and Morley bowed; 
and going in different directions they separated. 

'Do you happen to know a lawyer by name Hat- 
ton in this inn?* inquired Morley of his friend the 
journalist, when, having transacted their business, the 
occasion served. 

'No lawyer of that name; but the famous Hatton 
lives here,' was the reply. 

'The famous Hatton! And what is he famous for? 
You forget 1 am a provincial.' 

'He has made more peers of the realm than our 
gracious Sovereign,' said the journalist. 'And since 
the reform of Parliament the only chance of a 



SYBIL 



341 



Tory becoming a peer is the favour of Baptist Hatton; 
though who he is no one knows, and what he is no 
one can describe.' 

'You speak in conundrums,' said Morley; 'I wish 
I could guess them. Try to adapt yourself to my 
somewhat simple capacity.' 

' In a word, then,' said his friend, 'if you must 
have a definition, Hatton may rank under the genus 
''antiquary," though his species is more difficult to 
describe. He is an heraldic antiquary; a discoverer, 
inventor, framer, arranger of pedigrees; profound in 
the mysteries of genealogies; an authority I believe 
unrivalled in everything that concerns the constitution 
and elements of the House of Lords; consulted by 
lawyers, though not professing the law; and starthng 
and alarming the noblest families in the country by 
claiming the ancient baronies which they have often 
assumed without authority, for obscure pretenders, 
many of whom he has succeeded in seating in the 
Parliament of his country.' 

' And what part of the country did he come from; do 
you happen to know ? ' inquired Morley, evidently much 
interested, though he attempted to conceal his emotion. 

' He may be a veritable subject of the kingdom of 
Cockaigne, for aught I know,' replied his friend. ' He 
has been buried in this inn I believe for years; for 
very many before I settled here; and for a long time 
I apprehend was sufficiently obscure, though doing, 
they say, a great deal in a small way; but the Mallory 
case made his fortune about ten years ago. That 
was a barony by writ of summons which had been 
claimed a century before, and failed. Hatton seated 
his man, and the precedent enabled three or four more 
gentlemen under his auspices to follow that example. 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



They were Roman Catholics, which probably brought 
him the Mallory case, for Hatton is of the old Church; 
better than that, they were all gentlemen of great es- 
tate, and there is no doubt their champion was well 
rewarded for his successful service. They say he is 
very rich. At present all the business of the country 
connected with descents flows into his chambers. Not 
a pedigree in dispute, not a peerage in abeyance, which 
is not submitted to his consideration. I don't know 
him personally; but you can now form some idea of 
his character; and if you want to claim a peerage,' 
the journalist added laughingly, 'he is your man.' 

A strong impression was on the mind of Morley 
that this was his man; he resolved to inquire of Ger- 
ard, whom he should see in the evening, as to the 
fact of their Hatton being a Catholic, and if so, to call 
on the antiquary on the morrow. 

In the meantime we must not forget one who is 
already making that visit. Sir Vavasour Firebrace is 
seated in a spacious library that looks upon the 
Thames and the gardens of the Temple. Though 
piles of parchments and papers cover the numerous 
tables, and in many parts intrude upon the Turkey 
carpet, an air of order, of comfort, and of taste, per- 
vades the chamber. The hangings of crimson dam- 
ask silk blend with the antique furniture of oak; the 
upper panes of the windows are tinted by the brilliant 
pencil of feudal Germany, while the choice volumes 
that hne the shelves are clothed in bindings which 
become their rare contents. The master of this apart- 
ment was a man of ordinary height, inclined to cor- 
pulency, and in the wane of middle life, though his 
unwrinkled cheek, his undimmed blue eye, and his 
brown hair, very apparent, though he wore a cap of 



SYBIL 



343 



black velvet, did not betray his age, or the midnight 
studies by which he had in a great degree acquired 
that learning for which he was celebrated. The gen- 
eral expression of his countenance was pleasing, though 
dashed with a trait of the sinister. He was seated 
in an easy chair, before a kidney table at which he 
was writing. Near at hand was a long tall open 
desk, on which were several folio volumes open, and 
some manuscripts which denoted that he had recently 
been engaged with them. At present Mr. Hatton, 
with his pen still in his hand and himself in a 
chamber-robe of the same material as his cap, leant 
back in his chair, while he listened to his client. Sir 
Vavasour. Several beautiful black-and-tan spaniels of 
the breed of King Charles II. were reposing near him 
on velvet cushions, with a haughty luxuriousness 
which would have become the beauties of the merry 
monarch; and a white Persian cat, with blue eyes, a 
long tail, and a visage not altogether unlike that of 
its master, was resting with great gravity on the 
writing-table, and assisting at the conference. 

Sir Vavasour had evidently been delivering himself 
of a long narrative, to which Mr. Hatton had listened 
with that imperturbable patience which characterised 
him, and which was unquestionably one of the ele- 
ments of his success. He never gave up anything, 
and he never interrupted anybody. And now in a 
silvery voice he replied to his visitor: 

'What you tell me. Sir Vavasour, is what I fore- 
saw, but which, as my influence could not affect it, 
I dismissed from my thoughts. You came to me for 
a specific object. I accomplished it. I undertook to 
ascertain the rights and revive the claims of the baron- 
ets of England. That was what you required of me; 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



I fulfilled your wish. Those rights are ascertained; 
those claims are revived. A great majority of the 
order have given in their adhesion to the organised 
movement. The nation is acquainted with your de- 
mands, accustomed to them, and the monarch once 
favourably received them. I can do no more; I do 
not pretend to make baronets, still less can I confer 
on those already made the right to wear stars and 
coronets, the dark green dress of Equites aurati, or 
white hats with white plumes of feathers. These dis- 
tinctions, even if their previous usage were established, 
must flow from the gracious permission of the Crown, 
and no one could expect, in an age hostile to per- 
sonal distinctions, that any ministry would recommend 
the Sovereign to a step which with vulgar minds 
would be odious, and by malignant ones might be 
rendered ridiculous.' 

'Ridiculous!' said Sir Vavasour. 

*A11 the world,' said Mr. Hatton, 'do not take upon 
these questions the same enlightened view as our- 
selves. Sir Vavasour. I never could for a moment be- 
lieve that the Sovereign would consent to invest such 
a numerous body of men with such privileges.' 

'But you never expressed this opinion,' said Sir 
Vavasour. 

'You never asked for my opinion,' said Mr. Hat- 
ton; 'and if I had given it, you and your friends 
would not have been influenced by it. The point was 
one on which you might with reason hold yourselves 
as competent judges as I am. All you asked of me 
was to make out your case, and I made it out. I 
will venture to say a better case never left these 
chambers; I do not believe there is a person in the 
kingdom who could answer it except myself. They 



SYBIL 



345 



have refused the order their honours, Sir Vavasour, 
but it is some consolation that they have never an- 
swered their case.' 

* I think it only aggravates the oppression,' said 
Sir Vavasour, shaking his head; 'but cannot you ad- 
vise any new step, Mr. Hatton ? After so many years 
of suspense, after so much anxiety and such a vast 
expenditure, it really is too bad that I and Lady Fire- 
brace should be announced at court in the same style 
as our fishmonger, if he happens to be a sheriff.' 

M can make a peer,' said Mr. Hatton, leaning back 
in his chair and playing with his seals, 'but I do not 
pretend to make baronets. I can place a coronet with 
four balls on a man's brow; but a coronet with two 
balls is an exercise of the prerogative with which 1 
do not presume to interfere.' 

'I mention it in the utmost confidence,' said Sir 
Vavasour, in a whisper; 'but Lady Firebrace has a 
sort of promise that, in the event of a change of gov- 
ernment, we shall be in the first batch of peers.' 

Mr. Hatton shook his head with a slight smile of 
contemptuous incredulity. 

'Sir Robert,' he said, 'will make no peers; take 
my word for that. The Whigs and I have so deluged 
the House of Lords that you may rely upon it as a 
secret of state, that if the Tories come in, there will 
be no peers made. I know the Queen is sensitively 
alive to the cheapening of all honours of late years. 
If the Whigs go out to-morrow, mark me, they will 
disappoint all their friends. Their underlings have 
promised so many that treachery is inevitable, and 
if they deceive some they may as well deceive all. 
Perhaps they may distribute a coronet or two among 
themselves; and I shall this year make three; and 



346 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



those are the only additions to the peerage which 
will occur for many years. You may rely on that. 
For the Tories will make none, and I have some 
thoughts of retiring from business.' 

It is difficult to express the astonishment, the per- 
plexity, the agitation, that pervaded the countenance 
of Sir Vavasour while his companion thus coolly de- 
livered himself. High hopes extinguished and excited 
at the same moment; cherished promises vanishing, 
mysterious expectations rising up; revelations of as- 
tounding state secrets; chief ministers voluntarily re- 
nouncing their highest means of influence, and an 
obscure private individual distributing those distinc- 
tions which sovereigns were obliged to hoard, and to 
obtain which the first men in the country were ready 
to injure their estates and to sacrifice their honour! 
At length Sir Vavasour said, 'You amaze me, Mr. 
Hatton. 1 could mention to you twenty members at 
Boodle's, at least, who believe they will be made 
peers the moment the Tories come in.' 

'Not a man of them,' said Hatton peremptorily. 
*Tell me one of their names, and I will tell you 
whether they will be made peers.' 

'Well, then, there is Mr. Tubbe Sweete, a county 
member, and his son in Parliament too; I know he 
has a promise.^ 

' I repeat to you. Sir Vavasour, the Tories will not 
make a single peer; the candidates must come to me; 
and I ask you what I can do for a Tubbe Sweete, 
the son of a Jamaica cooper? Are there any old 
families among your twenty members of Boodle's ? ' 

'Why, I can hardly say,' said Sir Vavasour; 'there 
is Sir Charles Featherly, an old baronet.' 

'The founder a Lord Mayor in James the First's 



SYBIL 



347 



reign. That is not the sort of old family that I mean,' 
said Mr. Hatton. 

'Well, there is Colonel Cockawhoop,' said Sir 
Vavasour. * The Cockawhoops are a very good family 
I have always heard.' 

'Contractors of Queen Anne; partners with Marl- 
borough and Solomon Medina; a very good family 
indeed: but I do not make peers out of good famihes, 
Sir Vavasour; old famihes are the blocks out of which 
1 cut my Mercuries.' 

' But what do you call an old family ? ' said Sir 
Vavasour. 

'Yours,' said Mr. Hatton; and he threw a full 
glance on the countenance on which the hght rested. 

'We were in the first batch of baronets,' said Sir 
Vavasour. 

'Forget the baronets for a while,' said Hatton. 
'Tell me, what was your family before James 1.?' 

'They always lived on their lands,' said Sir Vava- 
sour. 'I have a room full of papers that would, per- 
haps, tell us something about them. Would you hke 
to see them ? ' 

'By all means; bring them all here. Not that I 
want them to inform me of your rights; I am fully 
acquainted with them. You would hke to be a peer. 
Sir. Well, you are really Lord Vavasour, but there is 
a difficulty in establishing your undoubted right from 
the single writ of summons difficulty. I will not 
trouble you with technicalities. Sir Vavasour; suffi- 
cient that the difficulty is great, though perhaps not un- 
manageable. But we have no need of management. 
Your claim on the barony of Lovel is good: I could 
recommend your pursuing it, did not another more in- 
viting still present itself. In a word, if you wish to be 



348 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Lord Bardolf, I will undertake to make you so, before, 
in all probability, Sir Robert Peel obtains office; and 
that, I should think, would gratify Lady Firebrace.' 

'Indeed it would,' said Sir Vavasour, *for if it had 
not been for this sort of a promise of a peerage made, 
1 speak in great confidence, Mr. Hatton, made by 
Mr. Taper, my tenants would have voted for the 

Whigs the other day at the shire election, and 

the Conservative candidate would have been beaten. 
Lord Masque had almost arranged it, but Lady Fire- 
brace would have a written promise from a high 
quarter, and so it fell to the ground.' 

'Well, we are' independent of all these petty ar- 
rangements now,' said Mr. Hatton. 

Mt is wonderful,' said Sir Vavasour, rising from 
his chair and speaking, as it were, to himself. *And 
what do you think our expenses will be in this claim?' 
he inquired. 

'Bagatelle!' said Mr. Hatton. *Why, a dozen 
years ago I have known men lay out nearly half a 
million in land and not get two per cent, for their 
money, in order to obtain a borough influence, which 
might ultimately obtain them a spick and span coro- 
net; and now you are going to put one on your head 
which will give you precedence over every peer on 
the roll, except three; and I made those; and it will 
not cost you a paltry twenty or thirty thousand 
pounds. Why, I know men who would give that 
for the precedence alone. Here!' and he rose and 
took up some papers from a table: 'Here is a case; 
a man you know, I dare say; an earl, and of a de- 
cent date as earls go; George I. The first baron was 
a Dutch valet of William III. Well, I am to ter- 
minate an abeyance in his favour through his mother, 



SYBIL 



349 



and give him one of the baronies of the Herberts. 
He buys off the other claimant, who is already en- 
nobled, with a larger sum than you will expend on 
your ancient coronet. Nor is that all. The other 
claimant is of French descent and name; came over 
at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Well, be- 
sides the hush-money, my client is to defray all the 
expense of attempting to transform the descendant 
of the silkweaver of Lyons into the heir of a Norman 
conqueror. So you see, Sir Vavasour, I am not un- 
reasonable. Pah! I would sooner gain five thousand 
pounds by restoring you to your rights, than fifty 
thousand in establishing any of these pretenders in 
their base assumptions. I must work in my craft, 
Sir Vavasour, but I love the old English blood, and 
have it in my veins.* 

*I am satisfied, Mr. Hatton,* said Sir Vavasour; 
' let no time be lost. All I regret is, that you did not 
mention all this to me before; and then we might 
have saved a great deal of trouble and expense.' 

'You never consulted me,' said Mr. Hatton. *You 
gave me your instructions, and I obeyed them. 1 
was sorry to see you in that mind, for to speak 
frankly, and I am sure now you will not be offended, 
my lord, for such is your real dignity, there is no 
title in the world for which I have such a contempt 
as that of a baronet.' 

Sir Vavasour winced, but the future was full of 
glory and the present of excitement; and he wished 
Mr. Hatton good morning, with a promise that he 
would himself bring the papers on the morrow. 

Mr. Hatton was buried for a few moments in a 
reverie, during which he played with the tail of the 
Persian cat. 



CHAPTER XL. 




Egremont's Secret. 

E LEFT Sybil and Egremont just at 
the moment that Gerard arrived at 
the very threshold which they had 
themselves reached. 
*Ah! my father,' exclaimed Sybil, 
and then with a faint blush, of which 
she was perhaps unconscious, she added, as if appre- 
hensive Gerard would not recall his old companion, 
'you remember Mr. Franklin?' 

' This gentleman and myself had the pleasure of 
meeting yesterday,' said Gerard, embarrassed, while 
Egremont himself changed colour and was infinitely 
confused. Sybil felt surprised that her father should 
have met Mr. Franklin and not have mentioned a cir- 
cumstance naturally interesting to her. Egremont was 
about to speak when the street-door was opened. 
And were they to part again, and no explanation.^ 
And was Sybil to be left with her father, who was 
evidently in no haste, perhaps had no great tendency, 
to give that explanation? Every feeling of an ingen- 
uous spirit urged Egremont personally to terminate 
this prolonged misconception. 

*You will permit me, I hope,' he said, appealing 
(350) 



SYBIL 



3SI 



as much to Gerard as to his daughter, 'to enter with 
you for a few moments.' 

It was not possible to resist such a request, yet it 
was conceded on the part of Gerard with no cor- 
diality. So they entered the large gloomy hall of the 
house, and towards the end of a long passage Gerard 
opened a door, and they all went into a spacious 
melancholy room, situate at the back of the house, 
and looking upon a small square plot of dank grass, 
in the midst of which rose a weather-stained Cupid, 
with one arm broken, and the other raised in the air, 
with a long shell to its mouth. It seemed that in 
old days it might have been a fountain. At the end 
of the plot, the blind side of a house offered a high 
wall which had once been painted in fresco. Though 
much of the coloured plaster had cracked and peeled 
away, and all that remained was stained and faded, 
still some traces of the original design might yet be 
detected: festive wreaths, the colonnades and perspective 
of a palace. 

The walls of the room itself were wainscoted in 
panels of dark-stained wood; the window-curtains 
were of coarse green worsted, and encrusted by dust 
so ancient and irremovable, that it presented almost 
a lava-Hke appearance; the carpet, that had once been 
bright and showy, was entirely threadbare, and had 
become grey with age. There were several heavy 
mahogany arm-chairs in the room, a Pembroke table, 
and an immense unwieldy sideboard, garnished with 
a few wine-glasses of a deep blue colour. Over the 
lofty uncouth mantel was a portrait of the Marquis of 
Granby, which might have been a sign, and opposite 
to him, over the sideboard, was a large tawdry-col- 
oured print, by Bunbury, of Ranelagh in its most 



352 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



festive hour. The general appearance of the room, 
however, though dingy, was not squalid; and what 
with its spaciousness, its extreme repose, and the as- 
sociations raised by such few images as it did sug- 
gest, the impression on the mind of the spectator 
was far from unpleasing, partaking indeed of that 
vague melancholy which springs from the contempla- 
tion of the past, and which at all times softens the 
spirit. 

Gerard walked to the window and looked at the 
grass-plot; Sybil seating herself, invited their guest to 
follow her example; Egremont, not without agitation, 
seemed suddenly to make an effort to collect himself, 
and then, in a voice not distinguished by its accus- 
tomed clearness, he said, M explained yesterday to 
one whom, I hope, I may still call my friend, why I 
assumed a name to which I have no right.' 

Sybil started a little, slightly stared, but did not 
speak. 

'1 should be happy if you also would give me 
credit, in taking that step, at least for motives of 
which I need not be ashamed; even,' he added in a 
hesitating voice, 'even if you deemed my conduct in- 
discreet.' 

Their eyes met: astonishment was imprinted on 
the countenance of Sybil, but she uttered not a word; 
and her father, whose back was turned to them, did 
not move. 

'I was told,' continued Egremont, *that an impass- 
able gulf divided the rich from the poor; 1 was told 
that the privileged and the people formed two na- 
tions, governed by different laws, influenced by differ- 
ent manners, with no thoughts or sympathies in 
common; with an innate inability of mutual compre- 



SYBIL 



353 



hension. I believed that if this were indeed the case, 
the ruin of our common country was at hand; I 
would have endeavoured, feebly perchance, but not 
without zeal, to resist such a catastrophe; I possessed 
a station which entailed on me some portion of its 
responsibility; to obtain that knowledge which could 
alone qualify me for beneficial action, I resolved to 
live without suspicion among my fellow-subjects who 
were estranged from me; even void of all celebrity as 
I am, I could not have done that without suspicion, 
had I been known; they would have recoiled from 
my class and my name, as you yourself recoiled, 
Sybil, when they were once accidentally mentioned 
before you. These are the reasons, these the feelings, 
which impelled, I will not say justified, me to pass 
your threshold under a feigned name. I entreat you 
to judge kindly of my conduct; to pardon me; and 
not to make me feel the bitterness that I have for- 
feited the good opinion of one for whom under all 
circumstances and in all situations, I must ever feel 
the highest conceivable respect, I would say a rever- 
ential regard.' 

His tones of passionate emotion ceased. Sybil, 
with a countenance beautiful and disturbed, gazed at 
him for an instant, and seemed about to speak, but 
her trembling lips refused the office; then with an 
effort, turning to Gerard, she said, 'My father, I am 
amazed; tell me, then, who is this gentleman who 
addresses me ? ' 

*The brother of Lord Marney, Sybil,' said Gerard, 
turning to her. 

'The brother of Lord Marney!' repeated Sybil, with 
an air almost of stupor. 

*Yes/ said Egremont; 'a member of that family of 

14 B. D.— 23 



354 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



sacrilege, of those oppressors of the people, whom 
you have denounced to me with such withering 
scorn.' 

The elbow of Sybil rested on the arm of her chair, 
and her cheek upon her hand; as Egremont said these 
words she shaded her face, which was thus entirely 
unseen: for some moments there was silence. Then 
looking up with an expression grave but serene, and 
as if she had just emerged from some deep thinking, 
Sybil said, *1 am sorry for my words; sorry for the 
pain 1 unconsciously gave you; sorry indeed for all 
that has passed; and that my father has lost a pleas- 
ant friend.' 

'And why should he be lost?' said Egremont 
mournfully, and yet with tenderness. 'Why should 
we not still be friends?' 

*Oh, sir!' said Sybil, haughtily; *I am one of 
those who believe the gulf is impassable. Yes,' she 
added, slightly but with singular grace waving her 
hands, and somewhat turning away her head, * utterly 
impassable.' 

There are tumults of the mind, when, like the 
great convulsions of nature, all seems anarchy and re- 
turning chaos, yet often, in those moments of vast 
disturbance, as in the material strife itself, some new 
principle of order, or some new impulse of conduct, 
develops itself, and controls, and regulates, and brings 
to an harmonious consequence, passions and elements 
which seemed only to threaten despair and subver- 
sion. So it was with Egremont. He looked for a 
moment in despair upon this maiden, walled out 
from sympathy by prejudices and convictions more 
impassable than all the mere consequences of class. 
He looked for a moment, but only for a moment, in 



SYBIL 



355 



despair. He found in his tortured spirit energies that 
responded to the exigency of the occasion. Even the 
otherwise embarrassing presence of Gerard would not 
have prevented — but just at this moment the door 
opened, and Morley and another person entered the 
room. 




CHAPTER XLI. 




More Secrets. 

ORLEY paused as he recognised Egre- 
mont; then advancing to Gerard, 
followed by his companion, he said, 
'This is Mr. Hatton of whom we 
were speaking last night, and who 
claims to be an ancient acquaint- 
ance of yours.' 

* Perhaps 1 should rather say of your poor dear 
father,' said Hatton, scanning Gerard with his clear 
blue eye; and then he added, 'He was of great serv- 
ice to me in my youth, and one is not apt to forget 
such things.' 

'One ought not,' said Gerard; 'but it is a sort of 
memory, as I have understood, that is rather rare. 
For my part I remember you very well, Baptist Hat- 
ton,' said Gerard, examining his guest with almost as 
complete a scrutiny as he had himself experienced. 
'The world has gone well with you, I am glad to 
hear and see.' 

'Qui labor aty or at,' said Hatton in a silvery voice, 
'is the gracious maxim of our Holy Church; and I 
venture to believe my prayers and vigils have been 
accepted, for I have laboured in my time;' and as he 
(356) 



SYBIL 



357 



was speaking these words, he turned and addressed 
them to Sybil. 

She beheld him with no little interest; this mys- 
terious name that had sounded so often in her young 
ears, and was associated with so many strange and 
high hopes, and some dark blending of doubt and 
apprehension, and discordant thoughts. Hatton in his 
appearance realised little of the fancies in which Sybil 
had sometimes indulged with regard to him. That 
appearance was prepossessing: a frank and even 
benevolent expression played upon his intelligent and 
handsome countenance; his once rich brown hair, 
still long, though thin, was so arranged as naturally 
to conceal his baldness; he was dressed with great 
simplicity, but with remarkable taste and care; nor 
did the repose and suavity of his manner and the 
hushed tone of his voice detract from the favourable 
effect that he always at once produced. 

'Qui labor at, or at/ said Sybil with a smile, *is the 
privilege of the people.' 

'Of whom I am one,' said Hatton, bowing, well 
recollecting that he was addressing the daughter of a 
Chartist delegate. 

'But is your labour, their labour?' said Sybil. Ms 
yours that life of uncomplaining toil wherein there is 
so much of beauty and of goodness, that, by the fine 
maxim of our Church, it is held to include the force 
and efficacy of prayer?' 

'I am sure that 1 should complain of no toil that 
would benefit you,' said Hatton; and then addressing 
himself again to Gerard, he led him to a distant part 
of the room where they were soon engaged in earnest 
converse. Morley at the same moment approached 
Sybil, and spoke to her in a subdued tone. Egremont, 



358 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



feeling embarrassed, advanced and bade her farewell. 
She rose and returned his salute with some ceremony; 
then hesitating, while a soft expression came over her 
countenance, she held forth her hand, which he re- 
tained for a moment, and withdrew. 

*I was with him more than an hour,' continued 
Morley. *At first he recollected nothing; even the 
name of Gerard, though he received it as familiar to 
him, seemed to produce little impression; he recol- 
lected nothing of any papers; was clear that they must 
have been quite insignificant; whatever they were, he 
doubtless had them now, as he never destroyed 
papers; would order a search to be made for them, 
and so on. I was about to withdraw, when he 
asked me carelessly a question about your father; 
what he was doing, and whether he were married, 
and had children. This led to a long conversation, 
in which he suddenly seemed to take great interest. 
At first he talked of writing to see your father, and I 
offered that Gerard should call upon him. He took 
down your direction, in order that he might write to 
your father, and give him an appointment; when, ob- 
serving that it was Westminster, he said that his 
carriage was ordered to go to the House of Lords in 
a quarter of an hour, and that, if not inconvenient to 
me, he would propose that I should at once accom- 
pany him. I thought, whatever might be the resuh, 
it must be a satisfaction to Gerard at last to see this 
man, of whom he has talked and thought so much; 
and so we are here.' 

'You did well, good Stephen, as you always do,' 
said Sybil with a musing and abstracted air; *no 
one has so much forethought, and so much energy 
as you.' 



SYBIL 



359 



He threw a glance at her; and immediately with- 
drew it. Their eyes had met: hers were kind and calm. 

'And this Egremont,' said Morley rather hurriedly 
and abruptly, and looking on the ground, ' how came 
he here ? When we discovered him yesterday, your 
father and myself agreed that we should not mention 
to you the — the mystification of which we had been 
dupes.* 

'And you did wrong,' said Sybil. 'There is no 
wisdom like frankness. Had you told me, he would 
not have been here to-day. He met and addressed 
me, and I only recognised an acquaintance who had 
once contributed so much to the pleasantness of our 
life. Had he not accompanied me to this door and 
met my father, which precipitated an explanation on 
his part which he found had not been given by others, 
1 might have remained in an ignorance which here- 
after might have produced inconvenience.' 

'You are right,' said Morley looking at her rather 
keenly. 'We have all of us opened ourselves too 
unreservedly before this aristocrat.' 

'I should hope that none of us have said to him a 
word that we wish to be forgotten,' said Sybil. 'He 
chose to wear a disguise, and can hardly quarrel with 
the frankness with which we spoke of his order or 
his family. And for the rest, he has not been injured 
from learning something of the feelings of the people 
by living among them.' 

'And yet if anything were to happen to-morrow,' 
said Morley, 'rest assured this man has his eye on 
us. He can walk into the government offices like 
themselves and tell his tale, for, though one of the 
pseudo-opposition, the moment the people move, the 
factions become united.' 



36o BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Sybil turned and looked at him, and then said, 
'And what could happen to-morrow, that we should 
care for the government being acquainted with it or 
us? Do not they know everything? Do not you 
meet in their very sight? You pursue an avowed 
and legal aim by legal means, do you not? AVhat 
then is there to fear? And why should anything 
happen that should make us apprehensive ? * 

'All is very well at this moment,' said Morley, 
'and all may continue well; but popular assemblies 
breed turbulent spirits, Sybil. Your father takes a 
leading part; he is a great orator, and is in his ele- 
ment in this clamorous and fiery life. It does not 
much suit me; 1 am a man of the closet. This con- 
vention, as you well know, was never much to my 
taste. Their Charter is a coarse specific for our social 
evils. The spirit that would cure our ills must be of 
a deeper and finer mood.' 

' Then why are you here ? ' said Sybil. 

Morley shrugged his shoulders, and then said, ' An 
easy question. Questions are always easy. The fact 
is, in active life one cannot afford to refine. I could 
have wished the movement to have taken a different 
shape, and to have worked for a different end; but 
it has not done this. But it is still a movement and 
a great one, and I must work it for my end and try 
to shape it to my form. If I had refused to be a 
leader, I should not have prevented the movement; I 
should only have secured my own insignificance.' 

'But my father has not these fears; he is full of 
hope and exultation,' said Sybil. 'And surely it is a 
great thing that the people have their Parliament law- 
fully meeting in open day, and their delegates from the 
whole realm declaring their grievances in language 



SYBIL 



361 



which would not disgrace the conquering race which 
has in vain endeavoured to degrade them. When I 
heard my father speak the other night, my heart 
glowed with emotion; my eyes were suffused with 
tears; I was proud to be his daughter; and I gloried 
in a race of forefathers who belonged to the oppressed 
and not to the oppressors.' 

Morley watched the deep splendour of her eye and 
the mantling of her radiant cheek, as she spoke these 
latter words with not merely animation but fervour. 
Her bright hair, that hung on either side her face in 
long tresses of luxuriant richness, was drawn off a 
forehead that was the very throne of thought and 
majesty, while her rich lip still quivered with the 
sensibility which expressed its impassioned truth. 

'But your father, Sybil, stands alone,' at length 
Morley replied; 'surrounded by votaries who have 
nothing but enthusiasm to recommend them; and by 
emulous and intriguing rivals, who watch every word 
and action, in order that they may discredit his con- 
duct, and ultimately secure his downfall.' 

'My father's downfall! ' said Sybil. 'Is he not one 
of themselves? And is it possible, that among the 
delegates of the people there can be other than one 
and the same object?' 

'A thousand,' said Morley; 'we have already as 
many parties as in St. Stephen's itself.' 

'You terrify me,' said Sybil. 'I knew we had fear- 
ful odds to combat against. My visit to this city 
alone has taught me how strong are our enemies. 
But I believed that we had on our side God and 
truth.' 

'They know neither of them in the National Con- 
vention,' said Morley. 'Our career will be a vulgar 



362 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



caricature of the bad passions and the low intrigues, 
the factions and the failures, of our oppressors.' 

At this moment Gerard and Hatton, who were sit- 
ting in the remote part of the room, rose together 
and came forward; and this movement interrupted the 
conversation of Sybil and Morley. Before, however, 
her father and his new friend could reach them. Hat- 
ton, as if some point on which he had not been suffi- 
ciently explicit had occurred to him, stopped, and 
placing his hand on Gerard's arm, withdrew him 
again, saying in a voice which could be heard only 
by the individual whom he addressed, 'You under- 
stand; I have not the slightest doubt myself of your 
moral right: I believe that on every principle of jus- 
tice, Mowbray Castle is as much yours as the house 
that is built by the tenant on the lord's land: but can 
we prove it ? We never had the legal evidence. You 
are in error in supposing that these papers were of 
any vital consequence: mere memoranda; very useful, 
no doubt, I hope I shall find them, but of no validity. 
If money were the only difficulty, trust me, it should 
not be wanting; I owe much to the memory of your 
father, my good Gerard; 1 would fain serve you and 
your daughter. I'll not tell you what 1 would do for 
you, my good Gerard. You would think me foolish; 
but I am alone in the world, and seeing you again 
and talking of old times — I really am scarcely fit for 
business. Go, however, I must; 1 have an appoint- 
ment at the House of Lords. Good-bye. I must say 
farewell to the Lady Sybil.' 



CHAPTER XLII. 




A Glorious Vision.' 

OU can't have that table, sir, it is 
engaged,' said a waiter at the 
Athenaeum to a member of the 
club who seemed unmindful of 
the type of appropriation which, 
in the shape of an inverted plate, 
ought to have warned him off the coveted premises. 

'It is always engaged,' grumbled the member. 
* Who has taken it ? ' 
'Mr. Hatton, sir.' 

And indeed at this very moment, it being about 
eight o'clock of the same day on which the meeting 
detailed in the last chapter had occurred, a handsome 
dark brougham with a beautiful horse was stopping 
in Waterloo Place before the portico of the Athenaeum 
Club-house, from which equipage immediately emerged 
the prosperous person of Baptist Hatton. 

This club was Hatton's only relaxation. He had 
never entered society; and now his habits were so 
formed that the effort would have been a painful 
one; though, with a first-rate reputation in his call- 
ing, and supposed to be rich, the openings were nu- 
merous to a famihar intercourse with those middle- 

(363) 



364 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



aged nameless gentlemen of easy circumstances who 
haunt clubs, and dine a great deal at each other's 
houses and chambers; men who travel regularly a 
little, and gossip regularly a great deal; Who lead a 
sort of facile, slipshod existence, doing nothing, yet 
mightily interested in what others do; great critics of 
little things; profuse in minor luxuries, and inchned 
to the respectable practice of a decorous profligacy; 
peering through the window of a club-house as if 
they were discovering a planet; and usually much ex- 
cited about things with which they have no concern, 
and personages who never heard of them. 

All this was not in Hatton's way, who was free 
from all pretension, and who had acquired, from his 
severe habits of historical research, a respect only for 
what was authentic. These nonentities flitted about 
him, and he shrunk from an existence that seemed 
to him at once dull and trifling. He had a few liter- 
ary acquaintances that he had made at the Antiquarian 
Society, of which he was a distinguished member; a 
vice-president of that body had introduced him to 
the Athenaeum. It was the first and only club that 
Hatton had ever belonged to, and he delighted in it. 
He liked splendour and the light and bustle of a 
great establishment. They saved him from that mel- 
ancholy which after a day of action is the doom of 
energetic celibacy. A luxurious dinner, without 
trouble, suited him after his exhaustion; sipping his 
claret, he revolved his plans. Above all, he revelled 
in the magnificent library, and perhaps was never 
happier than when, after a stimulating repast, he ad- 
journed up stairs, and buried himself in an easy chair 
with Dugdale, or Selden, or an erudite treatise on 
forfeiture or abeyance. 



SYBIL 



365 



To-day, however, Hatton was not in this mood. 
He came in exhausted and excited: ate rapidly and 
rather ravenously; despatched a pint of champagne; 
and then called for a bottle of Lafitte. His table 
cleared, a devilled biscuit placed before him, a cool 
bottle and a fresh glass, he indulged in that reverie 
which the tumult of his feelings and the physical re- 
quirements of existence had hitherto combined to 
prevent. 

* A strange day,' he thought as, with an abstracted 
air, he filled his glass, and sipping the wine, leant 
back in his chair. ' The son of Walter Gerard ! A 
Chartist delegate! The best blood in England! What 
would I not be, were it mine! 

* Those infernal papers! They made my fortune; 
and yet, I know not how it is, the deed has cost me 
many a pang. Yet it seemed innoxious; the old man 
dead, insolvent; myself starving; his son ignorant of 
all, to whom too they could be of no use, for it re- 
quired thousands to work them, and even with thou- 
sands they could only be worked by myself. Had I 
not done it, I should ere this probably have been 
swept from the surface of the earth, worn out with 
penury, disease, and heart-ache. And now I am 
Baptist Hatton, with a fortune almost large enough to 
buy Mowbray itself, and with knowledge that can 
make the proudest tremble. 

'And for what object all this wealth and power.? 
What memory shall I leave? What family shall 1 
found? Not a relative in the world, except a solitary 
barbarian, from whom, when years ago I visited him 
as a stranger, I recoiled with unutterable loathing. 

*Ah! had I a child: a child like the beautiful 
daughter of Gerard ! ' 



366 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



And here mechanically Hatton filled his glass, and 
quaffed at once a bumper. 

*And I have deprived her of a principality! That 
seraphic being, whose lustre even now haunts my 
vision; the ring of whose silver tone even now lin- 
gers in my ear. He must be a fiend who could 
injure her. 1 am that fiend. Let me see; let me 
see I ' 

And now he seemed wrapped in the very paradise 
of some creative vision; still he filled the glass, but 
this time he only sipped it, as if he were afraid to 
disturb the clustering images around him. 

'Let me see; let me see. 1 could make her a 
baroness. Gerard is as much Baron Valence as 
Shrewsbury is Talbot. Her name is Sybil. Curious 
how, even when peasants, the good blood keeps the 
good old family names! The Valences were ever 
Sybils. 

'I could make her a baroness. Yes! and I could 
give her wherewith to endow her state. I could com- 
pensate for the broad lands which should be hers, and 
which perhaps through me she has forfeited. 

'Could 1 do more? Could I restore her to the 
rank she would honour, assuage these sharp pangs of 
conscience, and achieve the secret ambition of my 
life? What if my son were to be Lord Valence? 

'Is it too bold? A Chartist delegate; a peasant's 
daughter! With all that shining beauty that I wit- 
nessed, with all the marvellous gifts that their friend 
Morley so descanted on, would she shrink from me? 
I'm not a crook-backed Richard. 

*I could proffer much: I feel I could urge it 
plausibly. She must be very wretched. With such 
a form, such high imaginings, such thoughts of power 



SYBIL 



367 



and pomp as I could breathe in her, I think she'd 
melt. And to one of her own faith, too! To build 
up a great Catholic house again; of the old blood, and 
the old names, and the old faith: by holy Mary, it is 
a glorious vision!' 



CHAPTER XLIII. 




Intrigues. 

N THE evening of the day that 
Egremont had met Sybil in the 
Abbey of Westminster, and subse- 
quently parted from her under cir- 
cumstances so distressing, the 
Countess of Marney held a great 
assembly at the family mansion in St. James' Square, 
which Lord Marney intended to have let to a new club, 
and himself and his family to have taken refuge for a 
short season at an hotel; but he drove so hard a bar- 
gain that, before the lease was signed, the new club, 
which mainly consisted of an ingenious individual 
who had created himself secretary, had vanished. 
Then it was agreed that the family mansion should be 
inhabited for the season by the family; and to-night 
Arabella was receiving all that great world of which 
she herself was a distinguished ornament. 

*We come to you as early as possible, my dear 
Arabella,' said Lady Deloraine to her daughter-in- 
law. 

* You are always so good ! Have you seen Charles ? 
I was in hopes he would have come,' Lady Marney 
added, in a somewhat mournful tone, 
(368) 



SYBIL 



369 



'He is at the House; otherwise I am sure he 
would have been here/ said Lady Deloraine, glad 
that she had so good a reason for an absence which 
under any circumstances she well knew would have 
occurred. 

M fear you will be sadly in want of beaus this 
evening, my love. We dined at the Duke of Fitz- 
Aquitaine's, and all our cavaliers vanished. They talk 
of an early division.' 

*I really wish all these divisions were over,' said 
Lady Marney. 'They are very anti-social. Ah! here 
is Lady de Mowbray.' 

Alfred Mountchesney hovered round Lady Joan 
Fitz-Warene, who was gratified by the devotion of 
the Cupid of May Fair. He uttered inconceivable 
nothings, and she replied to him in incomprehensible 
somethings. Her learned profundity and his vapid 
lightness effectively contrasted. Occasionally he caught 
her eye, and conveyed to her the anguish of his soul 
in a glance of self-complacent softness. 

Lady St. Julians, leaning on the arm of the Duke 
of Fitz-Aquitaine, stopped to speak to Lady Joan. 
Lady St. Julians was determined that the heiress of 
Mowbray should marry one of her sons. She watched, 
therefore, with a restless eye all those who attempted 
to monopolise Lady Joan's attention, and contrived 
perpetually to interfere with their manoeuvres. In the 
midst of a delightful conversation that seemed to ap- 
proach a crisis, Lady St. Julians was sure to advance, 
and interfere with some affectionate appeal to Lady 
Joan, whom she called her 'dear child' and 'sweetest 
love,' while she did not deign even to notice the un- 
happy cavalier whom she had thus as it were un- 
horsed. 

14 B. D.— 24 



370 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

'My sweet child!' said Lady St. Julians to Lady 
Joan, 'You have no idea how unhappy Frederick is 
this evening, but he cannot leave the House, and I 
fear it will be a late affair.' 

Lady Joan looked as if the absence or presence of 
Frederick was to her a matter of great indifference, 
and then she added, *1 do not think the division so 
important as is generally imagined. A defeat upon a 
question of colonial government does not appear to 
me of sufficient weight to dissolve a cabinet.' 

'Any defeat will do that now,' said Lady St. 
Julians, 'but to tell you the truth 1 am not very san- 
guine. Lady Deloraine says they will be beat: she 
says the Radicals will desert them; but 1 am not so 
sure. Why should the Radicals desert them ? And 
what have we done for the Radicals? Had we in- 
deed foreseen this Jamaica business, and asked some 
of them to dinner, or given a ball or two to their 
wives and daughters! I am sure if I had had the 
least idea that we had so good a chance of coming 
in, I should not have cared myself to have done 
something; even to have invited their women.* 

'But you are such a capital partisan. Lady St. 
Julians,' said the Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine, who, with 
the viceroyalty of Ireland dexterously dangled before 
his eyes for the last two years, had become a thor- 
ough Conservative, and had almost as much confi- 
dence in Sir Robert as in Lord Stanley. 

'I have made great sacrifices,' said Lady St. Ju- 
lians. 'I went once and stayed a week at Lady Jenny 
Spinner's to gain her looby of a son and his eighty 
thousand a year, and Lord St. Julians proposed him 
at White's; and then, after all, the Whigs made him 
a peer! They certainly make more of their social in- 



SYBIL 



371 



fluences than we do. That affair of that Mr. Trench- 
ard was a blow. Losing a vote at such a critical 
time, when, if I had only a remote idea of what was 
passing through his mind, I would have even asked 
him to Barrowley for a couple of days.' 

A foreign diplomatist of distinction had pinned Lord 
Marney, and was dexterously pumping him as to the 
probable future. 

'But is the pear ripe?' said the diplomatist. 

'The pear is ripe, if we have courage to pluck it,' 
said Lord Marney; 'but our fellows have no pluck.' 

'But do you think that the Duke of Welling- 
ton ' and here the diplomatist stopped and looked 

up in Lord Marney's face, as if he would convey 
something that he would not venture to express. 

'Here he is,' said Lord Marney, 'he will answer 
the question himself, * 

Lord Deloraine and Mr. Ormsby passed by; the 
diplomatist addressed them; 'You have not been to 
the Chamber?' 

'No,' said Lord Deloraine; 'but I hear there is hot 
work. It will be late.' 

'Do you think ,' said the diplomatist, and he 

looked up in the face of Lord Deloraine. 

'I think that in the long run everything will have 
an end,' said Lord Deloraine. 

'Ah!' said the diplomatist. 

' Bah ! ' said Lord Deloraine as he walked away with 
Mr. Ormsby. 'I remember that fellow: a sort of 
equivocal attache at Paris, when we were with Mon- 
mouth at the peace: and now he is a quasi ambas- 
sador, and ribboned and starred to the chin.' 

'The only stars I have got,' said Mr. Ormsby, 
demurely, 'are four stars in India stock.' 



372 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Lady Firebrace and Lady Maud Fitz-Warene were 
announced; they had just come from the Commons: 
a dame and damsel full of political enthusiasm. Lady 
Firebrace gave critical reports and disseminated many 
contradictory estimates of the result; Lady Maud 
talked only of a speech made by Lord Milford, which 
from the elaborate noise she made about it, you 
would have supposed to have been the oration of the 
evening; on the contrary, it had lasted only a few 
minutes, and in a thin house had been nearly inau- 
dible; but then, as Lady Maud added, 'it was in 
such good taste!' 

Alfred Mountchesney and Lady Joan Fitz-Warene 
passed Lady Marney, who was speaking to Lord De- 
loraine. 'Do you think,* said Lady Marney, 'that 
Mr. Mountchesney will bear away the prize?* 

Lord Deloraine shook his head. 'These great 
heiresses can never make up their minds. The bitter 
drop rises in all their reveries.' 

'And yet,' said Lady Marney, 'I would just as 
soon be married for my money as my face.' 

Soon after this, there was a stir in the saloons; a 
murmur, the ingress of many gentlemen; among 
others Lord Valentine, Lord Milford, Mr. Egerton, Mr. 
Berners, Lord Fitz-Heron, Mr. Jermyn. The House 
was up; the great Jamaica division was announced; 
the Radicals had thrown over the Government, who, 
left in a majority of only five, had already intimated 
their sense of the unequivocal feeling of the House with 
respect to them. It was known that on the morrow 
the government would resign. 

Lady Deloraine, prepared for the great result, was 
calm: Lady St. Julians, who had not anticipated it, 
was in a wild flutter of distracted triumph. A vague 



SYBIL 



373 



yet dreadful sensation came over her, in the midst of 
her joy, that Lady Deloraine had been beforehand 
with her; had made her combinations with the new 
Minister; perhaps even sounded the Court. At the 
same time that in this agitating vision, the great 
offices of the palace which she had apportioned to 
herself and her husband seemed to elude her grasp, 
the claims and hopes and interests of her various 
children haunted her perplexed consciousness. What 
if Charles Egremont were to get the place which she 
had projected for Frederick or Augustus? What if 
Lord Marney became Master of the Horse? Or Lord 
Deloraine went again to Ireland? In her nervous ex- 
citement she credited all these catastrophes: seized 
upon 'the Duke' in order that Lady Deloraine might 
not gain his ear, and resolved to get home as soon 
as possible, in order that she might write without a 
moment's loss of time to Sir Robert. 

'They will hardly go out without making some 
peers,' said Sir Vavasour Firebrace to Mr. Jermyn. 

'Why, they have made enough.' 

' Hem ! I know Tubbe Sweete has a promise, and 
so has Cockawhoop. 1 don't think Cockawhoop could 
show again at Boodle's without a coronet.' 

'I do not see why these fellows should go out,' 
said Mr. Ormsby. 'What does it signify whether 
ministers have a majority of five, or ten or twenty? 
In my time, a proper majority was a third of the 
House. That was Lord Liverpool's majority. Lord 
Monmouth used to say, that there were ten families 
in this country, who, if they could only agree, could 
always share the government. Ah! those were the 
good old times! We never had adjourned debates 
then; but sat it out like gentlemen who had been 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



used all their lives to be up all night, and then supped 
at Watier's afterwards.' 

'Ah! my dear Ormsby,' said Mr. Berners, *do not 
mention Watier's; you make my mouth water.' 

'Shall you stand for Birmingham, Ormsby, if there 
be a dissolution?' said Lord Fitz-Heron. 

*I have been asked,' said Mr. Ormsby: 'but the 
House of Commons is not the House of Commons of 
my time, and I have no wish to re-enter it. If I had 
a taste for business, I might be a member of the 
Marylebone vestry.' 

'All I repeat,' said Lord Marney to his mother, as 
he rose from the sofa where he had been some time 
in conversation with her, 'is that if there be any idea 
that I wish Lady Marney should be a lady-in-waiting, 
it is an error. Lady Deloraine. I wish that to be 
understood. I am a domestic man, and I wish Lady 
Marney to be always with me; and what I want, 1 
want for myself. I hope in arranging the Household 
the domestic character of every member of it will be 
considered. After all that has occurred, the country 
expects that.' 

' But my dear George, I think it is really pre- 
mature ' 

'I dare say it is; but I recommend you, my dear 
mother, to be alive. I heard Lady St. Julians just 
now in the supper room asking the Duke to promise 
her that her Augustus should be a Lord of the Ad- 
miralty. She said the Treasury would not do, as 
there was no house, and that with such a fortune as 
his wife brought him he could not hire a house under 
a thousand a year.' 

'He will not have the Admiralty,' said Lady De- 
loraine. 



SYBIL 



375 



'She looks herself to the Robes.' 
'Poor woman!' said Lady Deloraine. 
* Is it quite true ? ' said a great Whig dame, to Mr. 
Egerton, one of her own party. 
'Quite,' he said. 

M can endure anything except Lady St. Julians' 
glance of triumph,' said the Whig dame. *I really 
think, if it were only to ease her Majesty from such 
an infliction, they ought to have held on.' 

'And must the Household be changed?' said Mr. 
Egerton. 

'Do not look so serious,' said the Whig dame, 
smiling with fascination; 'we are surrounded by the 
enemy.' 

'Will you be at home to-morrow early?' said Mr. 
Egerton. 

'As early as you please.' 

'Very well, we will talk then. Lady Charlotte 
has heard something: nous verrons.' 

'Courage; we have the Court with us, and the 
country cares for nothing.' 




CHAPTER XLIV. 
The Flattering Tongue of Hope. 

IS all right,' said Mr. Tadpole. 
'They are out. Lord Melbourne 
has been with the Queen, and rec- 
ommended her Majesty to send 
for the Duke, and the Duke has 
recommended her Majesty to send 
for Sir Robert.' 

'Are you sure?' said Mr. Taper. 
'\ tell you Sir Robert is on his road to the palace 
at this moment; I saw him pass, full dressed.' 
Mt is too much,' said Mr. Taper. 
'Now what are we to do?' said Mr. Tadpole. 
*We must not dissolve,' said Mr. Taper. *We 
have no cry.' 

*As much cry as the other fellows,' said Mr. Tad- 
pole; 'but no one of course would think of dissolu- 
tion before the next registration. No, no; this is a 
very manageable Parliament, depend upon it. The 
malcontent Radicals who have turned them out are not 
going to bring them in. That makes us equal. Then 
we have an important section to work upon: the 
sneaks, the men who are afraid of a dissolution. I 
will be bound we make a good working Conservative 
majority of five-and-twenty out of the sneaks.' 
(376) 



SYBIL 



377 



'With the Treasury patronage/ said Mr. Taper; 
*fear and favour combined. An impending dissolu- 
tion, and all the places we refuse our own men, we 
may count on the sneaks.' 

'Then there are several religious men who have 
wanted an excuse for a long time to rat,' said Mr. 
Tadpole. *We must get Sir Robert to make some 
kind of a religious move, and that will secure Sir 
Litany Lax, and young Mr. Salem.' 

Mt will never do to throw over the Church Com- 
mission,' said Mr. Taper. 'Commissions and com- 
mittees ought always to be supported.' 

'Besides, it will frighten the saints,' said Mr. Tad- 
pole. * If we could get him to speak at Exeter Hall, 
were it only a slavery meeting, that would do.' 

'It is difficult,' said Taper; 'he must be pledged 
to nothing; not even to the right of search. Yet if 
we could get up something with a good deal of 
sentiment, and no principle involved; referring only 
to the past, but with his practised powers touching 
the present. What do you think of a monument to 
Wilberforce, or a commemoration of Clarkson?' 

'There is a good deal in that,' said Mr. Tadpole. 
'At present go about and keep our fellows in good 
humour. Whisper nothings that sound like some- 
thing. But be discreet; do not let there be more 
than half a hundred fellows who believe they are 
going to be under-Secretaries of State. And be cau- 
tious about titles. If they push you, give a wink, 
and press your finger to your lip. I must call here,' 
continued Mr. Tadpole, as he stopped before the 
house of the Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine. 'This gentle- 
man is my particular charge. 1 have been cooking 
him these three years. 1 had two notes from him 



378 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



yesterday, and can delay a visit no longer. The worst 
of it is, he expects that 1 shall bear him the non-official 
announcement of his being sent to Ireland, of which 
he has about as much chance as I have of being 
Governor-General of India. It must be confessed, 
ours is critical work sometimes, friend Taper; but 
never mind, what we have to do to individuals. Peel 
has to do with a nation, and therefore we ought not 
to complain.' 

The Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine wanted Ireland, and 
Lord de Mowbray wanted the Garter. Lord Marney, 
who wanted the Buckhounds, was convinced that 
neither of his friends had the slightest chance of ob- 
taining their respective objects, but believed that he 
had a very good one of securing his own if he used 
them for his purpose, and persuaded them to combine 
together for the common good. So at his suggestion 
they had all met together at the duke's, and were in 
full conference on the present state of affairs, while 
Tadpole and Taper were engaged in that interesting 
and instructive conversation of which we have 
snatched a passage. 

*You may depend upon it,' said Lord Marney, 
'that nothing is to be done by delicacy. It is not 
delicacy that rules the House of Lords. What has 
kept us silent for years? Threats; and threats used 
in the most downright manner. We were told that 
if we did not conform absolutely, and without appeal, 
to the will and pleasure of one individual, the cards 
would be thrown up. We gave in; the game has 
been played, and won. I am not at all clear that it 
has been won by those tactics, but gained it is; and 
now what shall we do? In my opinion it is high time 
to get rid of the dictatorship. The new ruse now for 



SYBIL 



379 



the palace is to persuade her Majesty that Peel is the 
only man who can manage the House of Lords. 
Well, then, it is exactly the time to make certain 
persons understand that the House of Lords are not 
going to be tools any longer merely for other people. 
Rely upon it, a bold united front at this moment 
would be a spoke in the wheel. We three form the 
nucleus; there are plenty to gather round. I have 
written to Marisforde; he is quite ripe. Lord Houn- 
slow will be here to-morrow. The thing is to be 
done; and if we are not firm the grand Conservative 
triumph will only end in securing the best posts both 
at home and abroad for one too powerful family.' 

*Who had never been heard of in the time of my 
father,' said the duke. 

'Nor in the time of mine,' said Lord de Mow- 
bray. 

* Royal and Norman blood like ours,' said Lord 
Marney, Ms not to be thrown over in that way.' 

It was just at this moment that a servant entered 
with a card, when the duke, looking at it, said, * It is 
Tadpole; shall we have him in? 1 dare say he will 
tell us something.' And, notwithstanding the impor- 
tant character of their conference, political curiosity, 
and perhaps some private feeling which not one of 
them cared to acknowledge, made them unanimously 
agree that Mr. Tadpole should be admitted. 

'Lord Marney and Lord de Mowbray with the 
Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine,' thought Mr. Tadpole, as he 
was ushered into the library; and his eye, practised 
in machinations and prophetic in manoeuvres, surveyed 
the three nobles. 'This looks like business and per- 
haps means mischief. Very lucky I called!' With an 
honest smile he saluted them all. 



38o BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



' What news from the palace, Tadpole ? ' inquired 
the duke. 

'Sir Robert is there,' replied Tadpole. 

'That is good news/ exclaimed his Grace, echoed 
by Lord de Mowbray, and backed up with a faint 
bravo from Lord Marney. 

Then arose a conversation in which all affected 
much interest respecting the Jamaica debate; whether 
the Whigs had originally intended to resign; whether 
it were Lord Melbourne or Lord John who had in- 
sisted on the step; whether, if postponed, they could 
have tided over the session; and so on. Tadpole, 
who was somewhat earnest in his talk, seemed to 
have pinned the Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine; Lord Marney, 
who wanted to say a word alone to Lord de Mow- 
bray, had dexterously drawn that personage aside on 
the pretence of looking at a picture. Tadpole, who, 
with a most frank and unsophisticated mien, had an 
eye for every corner of a room, seized the opportu- 
nity for which he had been long cruising. *I don't 
pretend to be behind the scenes, duke, but it was 
said to me to-day, ''Tadpole, if you do chance to see 
the Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine, you may say that posi- 
tively Lord Killcroppy will not go to Ireland." ' 

A smile of satisfaction played over the handsome 
face of the duke: instantly suppressed lest it might 
excite suspicion; and then, with a friendly and signifi- 
cant nod, that intimated to Tadpole not to dwell on 
the subject at the present moment, the duke with a 
rather uninterested air recurred to the Jamaica debate, 
and soon after appealed on some domestic point to 
his son-in-law. This broke up the conversation be- 
tween Lord de Mowbray and Lord Marney. Lord de 
Mowbray advancing, was met accidentally on purpose 



SYBIL 



381 



by Mr. Tadpole, who seemed anxious to push for- 
ward to Lord Marney. 

* You have heard of Lord Ribbonville ? ' said Tad- 
pole in a suppressed tone. 

*No; what?' 

'Can't live the day out. How fortunate Sir 
Robert is! Two garters to begin with!' 

Tadpole had now succeeded in tackling Lord 
Marney alone; the other peers were far out of ear- 
shot. * I don't pretend to be behind the scenes, my 
lord,' said the honest gentleman in a peculiarly 
confidential tone, and with a glance that spoke 
volumes of state secrecy; 'but it was said to me to- 
day, ''Tadpole, if you do chance to meet Lord Mar- 
ney, you may say that positively Lord Rambrooke 
will not have the Buckhounds." ' 

'All I want,' said Lord Marney, 'is to see men of 
character about her Majesty. This is a domestic 
country, and the country expects that no nobleman 
should take household office whose private character 
is not inexpugnable. Now that fellow Rambrooke 
keeps a Frenchwoman. It is not much known, but 
it is a fact.' 

'Dreadful!* exclaimed Mr. Tadpole. 'I have no 
doubt of it. But he has no chance of the Buck- 
hounds, you may rely on that. Private character is 
to be the basis of the new government. Since the 
Reform Act, that is a qualification much more esteemed 
by the constituency than public services. We must 
go with the times, my lord. A virtuous middle class 
shrinks with horror from French actresses; and the 
Wesleyans — the Wesleyans must be considered, Lord 
Marney.' 

'I always subscribe to them,' said his lordship. 



382 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Ah!' said Mr. Tadpole, mysteriously, 'I am glad 
to hear that. Nothing I have heard to-day has given 
me so much pleasure as those few words. One may 
hardly jest on such a subject,' he added, with a sanc- 
timonious air; 'but I think I may say,* and here he 
broke into a horse smile, ' I think 1 may say that those 
subscriptions will not be without their fruit.' And with 
a bow honest Tadpole disappeared, saying to himself 
as he left the house, 'If you were ready to be con- 
spirators when 1 entered the room, my lords, you 
were at least prepared to be traitors when 1 quitted it.' 

In the meantime Lord Marney, in the best possi- 
ble humour, said to Lord de Mowbray, 'You are go- 
ing to White's, are you? If so, take me.' 

' I am sorry, my dear lord, but I have an appoint- 
ment in the city. I have to go to the Temple, and 1 
am already behind my time.' 



CHAPTER XLV. 




Fears of Lord de Mowbray. 

ND why was Lord de Mowbray go- 
ing to the Temple? He had re- 
ceived the day before, when he 
came home to dress, a disagree- 
able letter from some lawyers, ap- 
prising him that they were instructed 
by their client, Mr. Walter Gerard, to commence pro- 
ceedings against his lordship on a writ of right, with 
respect to his manors of Mowbray, Valence, Mowe- 
dale, Mowbray Valence, and several others carefully 
enumerated in their precise epistle, the catalogue of 
which read like an extract from Domesday Book. 

More than twenty years had elapsed since the 
question had been mooted; and though the discussion 
had left upon Lord de Mowbray an impression from 
which at times he had never entirely recovered, still 
circumstances had occurred since the last proceedings 
which gave him a moral, if not a legal, conviction 
that he should be disturbed no more. And these 
were the circumstances: Lord de Mowbray, after the 
death of the father of Walter Gerard, had found him- 
self in corhmunication with the agent who had de- 
veloped and pursued the claim for the yeoman, and 

(583) 



384 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



had purchased for a good round sum the documents 
on which that claim was founded, and by which 
alone apparently that claim could be sustained. 

The vendor of these muniments was Baptist Hat- 
ton, and the sum which he obtained for them, by 
allowing him to settle in the metropolis, pursue his 
studies, purchase his library and collections, and other- 
wise give himself that fair field which brains without 
capital can seldom command, was in fact the founda- 
tion of his fortune. Many years afterwards Lord de 
Mowbray had recognised Hatton in the prosperous 
parliamentary agent who often appeared at the bar of 
the House of Lords, and before committees of privi- 
lege, and who gradually obtained an unrivalled repu- 
tation and employment in peerage cases. Lord de 
Mowbray renewed his acquaintance with a man who 
was successful; bowed to Hatton whenever they met; 
and finally consulted him respecting the barony of 
Valence, which had been in the old Fitz-Warene and 
Mowbray families, and to which it was thought the 
present earl might prefer some hocus-pocus claim 
through his deceased mother; so that, however recent 
was his date as an English earl, he might figure on 
the roll as a Plantagenet baron, which in the course 
of another century would complete the grand mystifi- 
cation of high nobility. The death of his son, dex- 
terously christened Valence, had a little damped his 
ardour in this respect; but still there was a sufficiently 
intimate connection kept up between him and Hal- 
ton; so that, before he placed the letter he had re- 
ceived in the hands of his lawyers, he thought it 
desirable to consult his ancient ally. 

This was the reason that Lord de Mowbray was 
at the present moment seated in the same chair, in 



SYBIL 



385 



the same library, as was a few days back that worthy 
baronet, Sir Vavasour Firebrace. Mr. Hatton was 
at the same table similarly employed; his Persian cat 
on his right hand, and his choice spaniels reposing 
on their cushions at his feet. 

Mr. Hatton held forward his hand to receive the 
letter of which Lord de Mowbray had been speaking 
to him, and which he read with great attention, 
weighing, as it were, each word. Singular! as the 
letter had been written by himself, and the firm who 
signed it were only his instruments, obeying the 
spring of the master hand. 

'Very remarkable!' said Mr. Hatton. 

*Is it not.?' said Lord de Mowbray. 

'And your lordship received this yesterday?' 

* Yesterday. I lost no time in communicating with 
you.' 

'Jubb and Jinks,' continued Mr. Hatton, musingly, 
surveying the signature of the letter. *A respectable 
firm.' 

'That makes it more strange,' said his lordship. 
'It does,' said Mr. Hatton. 

'A respectable firm would hardly embark in such 
a proceeding without some show of pretext,' said Lord 
de Mowbray. 

'Hardly,' said Mr. Hatton. 

'But what can they have?' urged his lordship. 

'What, indeed?' said Mr. Hatton. 'Mr. Walter 
Gerard, without his pedigree, is a mere flash in the 
pan; and I defy him to prove anything without the 
deed of '77.' 

'Well, he has not got that,' said Lord de Mow- 
bray. 

'Safe, of course?' said Mr. Hatton. 

14 B. D.— 25 



386 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Certain. I almost wish I had burnt it as well as 
the whole boxful.' 

' Destroy that deed and the other muniments, and 
the Earl de Mowbray will never be Baron Valence,' 
said Mr. Hatton. 

*But what use are these deeds now?' said his 
lordship. ' If we produce them, we may give a colour 
to this fellow's claim.' 

'Time will settle his claim,' said Mr. Hatton; Mt 
will mature yours. You can wait.' 

'Alas', since the death of my poor boy — ' 

' It has become doubly important. Substantiate the 
barony, it will descend to your eldest daughter, who, 
even if married, will retain your name. Your family 
will live, and ennobled. The Fitz-Warenes Lords 
Valence will yield to none in antiquity; and, as to 
rank, so long as Mowbray Castle belongs to them, 
the revival of the earldom is safe at the first corona- 
tion, or the first ministry that exists with a balanced 
state of parties.' 

'That is the right view of the case,' said Lord de 
Mowbray; 'and what do you advise?' 

'Be calm, and you have nothing to fear. This is 
the mere revival of an old claim, too vast to be al- 
lowed to lapse from desuetude. Your documents, you 
say, are all secure?' 

' Be sure of that. They are at this moment in the 
muniment room of the great tower of Mowbray Castle; 
in the same iron box and in the same cabinet they 
were deposited — ' 

'When, by placing them in your hands,' said Mr. 
Hatton, finishing a sentence which might have been 
awkward, ' I had the satisfaction of confirming the 
rights and calming the anxieties of one of our ancient 



SYBIL 



387 



houses. I would recommend your lordship to instruct 
your lawyers to appear to this writ as a matter of 
course. But enter into no details, no unnecessary 
confidence with them. They are needless. Treat the 
matter lightly, especially to them. You will hear no 
more of it.' 

'You feel confidence?' 

* Perfect. Walter Gerard has no documents of any 
kind. Whatever his claim might be, good or bad, 
the only evidence that can prove his pedigree is in 
your possession, and the only use to which it ever 
will be put, will be in due time to seat your grand- 
son in the House of Lords.' 

M am glad I called upon you,' said Lord de Mow- 
bray. 

* To be sure. Your lordship can speak to me 
without reserve, and I am used to these start-ups. 
It is part of the trade; but an old soldier is not to be 
deceived by such feints.' 

' Clearly a feint, you think ? ' 
'A feint! a feint.' 

'Good morning. I am glad I called. How goes 
on my friend Sir Vavasour ? ' 

'Oh! I shall land him at last.' 

' Well, he is an excellent neighbourly man. I have 
a great respect for Sir Vavasour. Would you dine 
with me, Mr. Hatton, on Thursday.^ It would give 
me and Lady de Mowbray great pleasure.' 

'Your lordship is extremely kind,' said Mr. Hatton 
bowing with a slight sarcastic smile, 'but I am a 
hermit.' 

'But your friends should see you sometimes,' said 
Lord de Mowbray. 

' Your lordship is too good, but I am a mere man 



388 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



of business, and know my position. I feel I am not 
at home in ladies' society.' 

'Well then, come to-morrow: I am alone, and 1 
will ask some persons to meet you whom you know 
and like: Sir Vavasour and Lord Shaftesbury, and a 
most learned Frenchman who is over here, a Vicomte 
de Narbonne, who is very anxious to make your ac- 
quaintance. Your name is current, I can tell you, at 
Paris.' 

*Your lordship is too good; another day: I have 
a great pressure of affairs at present.' 

'Well, well; so be it. Good morning, Mr. Hat- 
ton.' 

Hatton bowed lowly. The moment the door was 
shut, rubbing his hands, he said, * In the same box 
and in the same cabinet: the muniment room in the 
great tower of Mowbray Castle! They exist and 1 
know their whereabouts. I'll have 'em.' 



CHAPTER XLVI. 




An Awkward 'Hitch.' 



WO and even three days had rolled 
over since Mr. Tadpole had re- 
ported Sir Robert on his way to 
the palace, and marvellously little 
/ had transpired. It was of course 
known that a cabinet was in for- 



mation, and the daily papers reported to the public the 
diurnal visits of certain noble lords and right honour- 
able gentlemen to the new first Minister. But the 
world of high politics had suddenly become so cau- 
tious that nothing leaked out. Even gossip was at 
fault. Lord Marney had not received the Buckhounds, 
though he never quitted his house for ride or lounge 
without leaving precise instructions with Captain 
Grouse as to the identical time he should return home, 
so that his acceptance should not be delayed. Ire- 
land was not yet governed by the Duke of Fitz- 
Aquitaine, and the Earl de Mowbray was still ungartered. 
These three distinguished noblemen were all of them 
anxious — a little fidgety; but at the same time it was 
not even whispered that Lord Rambrooke or any other 
lord had received the post which Lord Marney had 
appropriated to himself; nor had Lord Killcroppy had 



(389) 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



a suspicious interview with the Prime Minister, which 
kept the Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine quiet though not 
easy; while not a shadow of coming events had 
glanced over the vacant stall of Lord Ribbonville in 
St. George's Chapel, and this made Lord de Mow- 
bray tranquil, though scarcely content. In the mean- 
time, daily and hourly they all pumped Mr. Tadpole, 
who did not find it difficult to keep up his reputation 
for discretion; for, knowing nothing, and beginning 
himself to be perplexed at the protracted silence, he 
took refuge in oracular mystery, and delivered him- 
self of certain Delphic sentences, which adroitly 
satisfied those who consulted him while they never 
committed himself. 

At length one morning there was an odd whisper 
in the circle of first initiation. The blood mantled on 
the cheek of Lady St. Julians; Lady Deloraine turned 
pale. Lady Firebrace wrote confidential notes with 
the same pen to Mr. Tadpole and Lord Masque. 
Lord Marney called early in the morning on the Duke 
of Fitz-Aquitaine, and already found Lord de Mowbray 
there. The clubs were crowded even at noon. Every- 
where a mysterious bustle and an awful stir. 

What could be the matter? What has happened? 

Mt is true,' said Mr. Egerton to Mr. Berners at 
Brooks'. 

*ls it true?' asked Mr. Jermyn of Lord Valentine 
at the Carlton. 

'I heard it last night at Crockford's,' said Mr. 
Ormsby; 'one always hears things there four-and- 
twenty hours before other places.' 

The world was employed the whole of the morn- 
ing in asking and answering this important question, 
'Is it true?' Towards dinner-time, it was settled 



SYBIL 



391 



universally in the affirmative, and then the world 
went out to dine and to ascertain why it was true 
and how it was true. 

And now, what had really happened ? What had 
happened was what is commonly called a 'hitch.' 
There was undoubtedly a hitch somewhere and 
somehow; a hitch in the construction of the new 
cabinet. Who could have thought it? The Whig 
ministers it seems had resigned, but somehow or 
other had not entirely and completely gone out. 
What a constitutional dilemma! The Houses must 
evidently meet, address the throne, and impeach its 
obstinate counsellors. Clearly the right course, and 
party feeling ran so high that it was not impossible 
that something might be done. At any rate, it was 
a capital opportunity for the House of Lords to pluck 
up a little courage and take what is called, in high 
political jargon, the initiative. Lord Marney, at the 
suggestion of Mr. Tadpole, was quite ready to do 
this; and so was the Duke of Fitz-Aquitaine, and al- 
most the Earl de Mowbray. 

But then, when all seemed ripe and ready, and 
there appeared a probability of the * Independence of 
the House of Lords' being again the favourite toast 
of Conservative dinners, the oddest rumour in the 
world got about, which threw such ridicule on these 
great constitutional movements in petto, that, even 
with the Buckhounds in the distance and Tadpole at 
his elbow, Lord Marney hesitated. It seemed, though 
of course no one could for a moment credit it, that 
these wrong-headed, rebellious ministers who would 
not go out, wore — petticoats! 

And the great Jamaica debate that had been 
cooked so long, and the anxiously-expected yet al- 



392 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

most despaired-of defection of the independent Radical 
section, and the full-dressed visit to the palace that 
had gladdened the heart of Tadpole, were they all to 
end in this ? Was Conservatism, that mighty mystery 
of the nineteenth century, was it after all to be 
brained by a fan? 

Since the farce of the ' Invincibles * nothing had 
ever been so ludicrously successful. 

Lady Deloraine consoled herself for the ' Bedcham- 
ber Plot,' by declaring that Lady St. Julians was in- 
directly the cause of it, and that, had it not been for 
the anticipation of her official entrance into the royal 
apartments, the conspiracy would not have been 
more real than the Meal-tub plot, or any other of the 
many imaginary machinations that still haunt the 
page of history, and occasionally flit about the preju- 
diced memory of nations. Lady St. Julians, on the 
contrary, wrung her hands over the unhappy fate of 
her enthralled Sovereign, deprived of her faithful pres- 
ence, and obliged to put up with the society of per- 
sonages of whom she knew nothing, and who called 
themselves the friends of her youth. The ministers 
who had missed, especially those who had received, 
their appointments looked as all men do when they 
are jilted: embarrassed, and affecting an awkward 
ease; as if they knew something which, if they told, 
would free them from the supreme ridicule of their 
situation, but which, as men of delicacy and honour, 
they refrained from revealing. All those who had 
been in fluttering hopes, however faint, of receiving 
preferment, took courage now that the occasion had 
passed, and loudly complained of their cruel and un- 
deniable deprivation. The constitution was wounded 
in their persons. Some fifty gentlemen, who had not 



SYBIL 



393 



been appointed under-Secretaries of State, moaned over 
the martyrdom of young ambition. 

'Peel ought to have taken office,' said Lord Mar- 
ney. 'What are the women to us?' 

'Peel ought to have taken office,' said the Duke 
of Fitz-Aquitaine. 'He should have remembered how 
much he owed to Ireland.' 

'Peel ought to have taken office,' said Lord de 
Mowbray. 'The garter will become now a mere 
party badge.' 

Perhaps it may be allowed to the impartial pen 
that traces these memoirs of our times to agree, 
though for a different reason, with these distinguished 
followers of Sir Robert Peel. One may be permitted 
to think that, under all circumstances, he should 
have taken office in 1839. His withdrawal seems to 
have been a mistake. In the great heat of parliamen- 
tary faction which had prevailed since 1831, the royal 
prerogative, which, unfortunately for the rights and 
liberties and social welfare of the people, had since 
1688 been more or less oppressed, had waned fainter 
and fainter. A youthful princess on the throne, 
whose appearance touched the imagination, and to 
whom her people were generally inclined to ascribe 
something of that decision of character which be- 
comes those born to command, offered a favourable 
opportunity to restore the exercise of that regal au- 
thority, the usurpation of whose functions has entailed 
on the people of England so much suffering, and so 
much degradation. It was unfortunate that one who, 
if any, should have occupied the proud and national 
position of the leader of the Tory party, the chief of 
the people and the champion of the throne, should 
have commenced his career as minister under Victoria 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



by an unseemly contrariety to the personal wishes of 
the Queen. The reaction of public opinion, disgusted 
with years of parliamentary tumult and the incoher- 
ence of party legislation, the balanced state in the 
kingdom of political parties themselves, the personal 
character of the Sovereign; these were all causes 
which intimated that a movement in favour of pre- 
rogative was at hand. The leader of the Tory party 
should have vindicated his natural position, and 
availed himself of the gracious occasion; he missed it; 
and, as the occasion was inevitable, the Whigs en- 
joyed its occurrence. And thus England witnessed 
for the first time the portentous anomaly of the oli- 
garchical or Venetian party, which had in the old 
days destroyed the free monarchy of England, retain- 
ing power merely by the favour of the Court. 

But we forget. Sir Robert Peel is not the leader 
of the Tory party; the party that resisted the ruinous 
mystification that metamorphosed direct taxation by 
the Crown into indirect taxation by the Commons; 
that denounced the system which mortgaged industry 
to protect property; the party that ruled Ireland by a 
scheme which reconciled both churches, and by a 
series of parliaments which counted among them lords 
and commons of both religions; that has maintained 
at all times the territorial constitution of England as 
the only basis and security for local government, and 
which nevertheless once laid on the table of the House 
of Commons a commercial tariff negotiated at Utrecht, 
which is the most rational that was ever devised by 
statesmen; a party that has prevented the Church 
from being the salaried agent of the state, and has sup- 
ported through many struggles the parochial polity of 
the country which secures to every labourer a home. 



SYBIL 



395 



In a parliamentary sense, that great party has 
ceased to exist; but I will believe that it still lives in 
the thought and sentiment and consecrated memory 
of the English nation. It has its origin in great 
principles and in noble instincts; it sympathises with 
the lowly, it looks up to the Most High; it can count 
its heroes and its martyrs; they have met in its be- 
half plunder, proscription, and death. Nor, when it 
finally yielded to the iron progress of oligarchical su- 
premacy, was its catastrophe inglorious. Its genius 
was vindicated in golden sentences and with fervent 
arguments of impassioned logic by St. John; and 
breathed in the intrepid eloquence and patriot soul of 
Wilham Wyndham. Even now it is not dead, but 
sleepeth; and, in an age of political materialism, of 
confused purposes and perplexed intelhgence, that as- 
pires only to wealth because it has faith in no other 
accomplishment, as men rifle cargoes on the verge of 
shipwreck, Toryism will yet rise from the tomb over 
which Bolingbroke shed his last tear, to bring back 
strength to the Crown, liberty to the subject, and to 
announce that power has only one duty: to secure 
the social welfare of the people. 



CHAPTER XLVII. 




The Gulf Is Impassable.' 

URING the week of political agi- 
tation which terminated with the 
inglorious catastrophe of the Bed- 
chamber Plot, Sybil remained tran- 
quil, and would have been scarcely 
conscious of what was disturbing 
so many right honourable hearts, had it not been for 
the incidental notice of their transactions by her father 
and his friends. To the Chartists, indeed, the factious 
embroilment at first was of no great moment, except 
as the breaking up and formation of cabinets might 
delay the presentation of the National Petition. They 
had long ceased to distinguish between the two 
parties who then and now contend for power. And 
they were right. Between the noble lord who goes 
out, and the right honourable gentleman who comes 
in, where is the distinctive principle? A shadowy 
difference may be stimulated in opposition, to serve a 
cry and stimulate the hustings; but the mask is not 
worn, even in Downing Streeet; and the conscientious 
Conservative seeks, in the pigeon-holes of a Whig 
bureau, for the measures against which for ten years 
he has been sanctioning, by the speaking silence of 
an approving nod, a general wail of frenzied alarm. 
(396) 



SYBIL 397 



Once it was otherwise; once the people recognised 
a party in the state whose principles identified them 
with the rights and privileges of the multitude: but 
when they found the parochial constitution of the 
country sacrificed without a struggle, and a rude as- 
sault made on all local influences in order to establish 
a severely organised centralisation, a blow was given 
to the influence of the priest and of the gentleman, 
the ancient champions of the people against arbitrary 
courts and rapacious parliaments, from which they 
will find that it requires no ordinary courage and 
wisdom to recover. 

The unexpected termination of the events of May, 
1839, in the re-establishment in power of a party 
confessedly too weak to carry on the parliamentary 
government of the country, was viewed however by 
the Chartists in a very different spirit from that with 
which they had witnessed the outbreak of these 
transactions. It had unquestionably a tendency to 
animate their efforts, and imparted a bolder tone to 
their future plans and movements. They were en- 
couraged to try a fall with a feeble administration. 
Gerard from this moment became engrossed in affairs; 
his correspondence greatly increased; and he was so 
much occupied that Sybil saw daily less and less of 
her father. 

It was on the morning after the day that Hatton 
had made his first and unlooked-for visit in Smith 
Square, that some of the delegates, who had caught 
the rumour of the resignation of the Whigs, had called 
early on Gerard, and he had soon after left the house 
in their company; and Sybil was alone. The strange 
incidents of the preceding day were revolving in her 
mind, as her eye wandered vaguely over her book. 



398 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



The presence of that Hatton who had so often, and 
in such different scenes, occupied their conversation; 
the re-appearance of that stranger, whose unexpected 
entrance into their little world had eighteen months 
ago so often lent interest and pleasure to their life: 
these were materials for pensive sentiment. Mr. 
Franklin had left some gracious memories with Sybil; 
the natural legacy of one so refined, intelligent, and 
gentle, whose temper seemed never ruffled, and who 
evidently so sincerely relished their society. Mowe- 
dale rose before her in all the golden beauty of its 
autumnal hour; their wild rambles and hearty greet- 
ings, and earnest converse when her father returned 
from his daily duties, and his eye kindled with 
pleasure as the accustomed knock announced the 
arrival of his almost daily companion. In spite of the 
excitement of the passing moment, its high hopes and 
glorious aspirations, and visions perchance of great- 
ness and of power, the eye of Sybil was dimmed 
with emotion as she recalled that innocent and tran- 
quil dream. 

Her father had heard from Franklin after his de- 
parture more than once; but his letters, though 
abounding in frank expressions of deep interest in the 
welfare of Gerard and his daughter, were in some 
degree constrained; a kind of reserve seemed to en- 
velop him; they never learnt anything of his life and 
duties; he seemed sometimes, as it were, meditating a 
departure from his country. There was undoubtedly 
about him something mysterious and unsatisfactory. 
Morley was of opinion that he was a spy; Gerard, 
less suspicious, ultimately concluded that he was 
harassed by his creditors, and when at Mowedale was 
probably hiding from them. 



SYBIL 



And now the mystery was at length dissolved. 
And what an explanation! A Norman, a noble, an 
oppressor of the people, a plunderer of the Church: 
all the characters and capacities that Sybil had been 
bred to look upon with fear and aversion, and to 
recognise as the authors of the degradation of her 
race. 

Sybil sighed; the door opened, and Egremont 
stood before her. The blood rose to her cheek, her 
heart trembled; for the first time in his presence she 
felt embarrassed and constrained. His countenance on 
the contrary was collected, serious, and pale. 

* I am an intruder,' he said advancing, 'but 1 wish 
much to speak to you,' and he seated himself near 
her. There was a momentary pause. 'You seemed 
to treat with scorn yesterday,' resumed Egremont, in 
accents less sustained, 'the behef that sympathy was 
independent of the mere accidents of position. Pardon 
me, Sybil, but even you may be prejudiced.' He 
paused. 

M should be sorry to treat anything you said 
with scorn,' replied Sybil, in a subdued tone. 
'Many things happened yesterday,' she added, 'which 
might be offered as some excuse for an unguarded 
word.' 

'Would that it had been unguarded!' said Egre- 
mont, in a voice of melancholy. ' I could have en- 
dured it with less repining. No, Sybil, I have known 
you, I have had the happiness and the sorrow of 
knowing you too well to doubt the convictions of 
your mind, or to believe that they can be lightly re- 
moved, and yet I would strive to remove them. You 
look upon me as an enemy, as a natural foe, be- 
cause I am born among the privileged. 1 am a man, 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Sybil, as well as a noble.' Again he paused; she 
looked down, but did not speak. 

*And can I not feel for men, my fellows, what- 
ever be their lot? 1 know you will deny it; but you 
are in error, Sybil; you have formed your opinions 
upon tradition, not upon experience. The world that 
exists is not the world of which you have read; the 
class that calls itself your superior is not the same 
class as ruled in the time of your fathers. There is 
a change in them as in all other things, and I partici- 
pate in that change. I shared it before I knew you, 
Sybil; and if it touched me then, at least believe it 
does not influence me less now.' 

*If there be a change,' said Sybil, *it is because in 
some degree the people have learnt their strength.' 

'Ah! dismiss from your mind those fallacious 
fancies,' said Egremont. 'The people are not strong; 
the people never can be strong. Their attempts at 
self-vindication will end only in their suffering and 
confusion. It is civiHsation that has effected, that is 
effecting, this change. It is that increased knowledge 
of themselves that teaches the educated their social 
duties. There is a dayspring in the history of this 
nation, which perhaps those only who are on the 
mountain tops can as yet recognise. You deem you 
are in darkness, and I see a dawn. The new genera- 
tion of the aristocracy of England are not tyrants, not 
oppressors, Sybil, as you persist in believing. Their 
intelligence, better than that, their hearts, are open to 
the responsibility of their position. But the work 
that is before them is no holiday-work. It is not 
the fever of superficial impulse that can remove the 
deep-fixed barriers of centuries of ignorance and 
crime. Enough that their sympathies are awakened; 



SYBIL 



401 



time and thought will bring the rest. They are the 
natural leaders of the people, Sybil; believe me, they 
are the only ones.' 

'The leaders of the people are those whom the 
people trust,' said Sybil, rather haughtily. 

'And who may betray them,' said Egremont. 

' Betray them ! ' exclaimed Sybil. ' And can you 
believe that my father — ' 

'No, no; you can feel, Sybil, though I cannot ex- 
press, how much 1 honour your father. But he stands 
alone in the singleness and purity of his heart. Who 
surround him ?' 

'Those whom the people have also chosen; and 
from a like confidence in their virtues and abilities. 
They are a senate supported by the sympathy of mil- 
lions, with only one object in view, the emancipation 
of their race. It is a sublime spectacle, these dele- 
gates of labour advocating the sacred cause in a 
manner which might shame your haughty factions. 
What can resist a demonstration so truly national ? 
What can withstand the supremacy of its moral 
power?' 

Her eye met the glance of Egremont. That brow, 
full of thought and majesty, was fixed on his. He 
encountered that face radiant as a seraph's; those dark 
eyes flashing with the inspiration of the martyr. 

Egremont rose, moved slowly to the window, 
gazed in abstraction for a few moments on the little 
garden, with its dank turf that no foot ever trod, its 
mutilated statue, and its mouldering frescoes. What 
a silence; how profound! What a prospect; how 
drear! Suddenly he turned, and advancing with a 
more rapid pace, he approached Sybil. Her head was 
averted, and leaning on her left arm, she seemed lost 

14 B. D.— 26 



402 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



in reverie. Egremont fell upon his knee, and gently 
taking her hand, he pressed it to his lips. She started, 
she looked round, agitated, alarmed, while he breathed 
forth in tremulous accents, * Let me express to you 
my adoration! 

* Ah! not now for the first time, but for ever; from 
the moment I first beheld you in the starlit arch of 
Marney, has your spirit ruled my being, and softened 
every spring of my affections. I followed you to 
your home, and lived for a time content in the silent 
worship of your nature. When 1 came the last morn- 
ing to the cottage, it was to tell, and to ask, all. 
Since then for a moment your image has never been 
absent from my consciousness; your picture con- 
secrates my hearth, and your approval has been the 
spur of my career. Do not reject my love ; it is deep 
as your nature, and fervent as my own. Banish those 
prejudices that have embittered your existence, and, 
if persisted in, may wither mine. Deign to retain 
this hand! If I be a noble, I have none of the acci- 
dents of nobAity: I cannot offer you wealth, splen- 
dour, or power; but 1 can offer you the devotion of 
an entranced being, aspirations that you shall guide, 
an ambition that you shall govern.' 

* These words are mystical and wild,' said Sybil 
with an amazed air; 'they come upon me with con- 
vulsive suddenness.* And she paused for an instant, 
collecting, as it were, her mind with an expression al- 
most of pain upon her countenance. 'These changes 
of life are so strange and rapid that it seems to me I 
can scarcely meet them. You are Lord Marney's 
brother; it was but yesterday, only yesterday, 1 learnt 
it. I thought then I had lost your friendship, and 
now you speak of — love! love of me! Retain your 



FROM AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY FRANCIS VAUX WILSON 



Egremont fell upon his knees, and gently taking her 
hand he pressed it to his lips. 

(See page 402.) 



them 



SYBIL 



403 



hand and share your life and fortunes! You forget 
what I am. But though I learnt only yesterday what 
you are, I will not be so remiss. Once you wrote 
upon a page you were my faithful friend; and I have 
pondered over that line with kindness often. I will 
be your faithful friend; I will recall you to yourself. 
I will at least not bring you shame and degradation.' 

*0h, Sybil, beloved, beautiful Sybil, not such bit- 
ter words; no, no!' 

*No bitterness to you! that would indeed be 
harsh,' and she covered with her hand her streaming 
eyes. 

'Why, what is this?' after a pause and with an 
effort she exclaimed. 'A union between the child 
and brother of nobles and a daughter of the people! 
Estrangement from your family, and with cause; their 
hopes destroyed, their pride outraged; alienation from 
your order, and justly, all their prejudices insulted. 
You will forfeit every source of worldly content and 
cast off every spring of social success. Society for 
you will become a great confederation to deprive you 
of self-complacency. And rightly. Will you not be 
a traitor to the cause ? No, no, kind friend, for such 
I'll call you. Your opinion of me, too good ^nd 
great as I feel it, touches me deeply. 1 am not used 
to such passages in life; I have read of such. Pardon 
me, feel for me, if I receive them with some disorder. 
They sound to me for the first time, and for the 
last. Perhaps they ought never to have reached my 
ear. No matter now; I have a life of penitence be- 
fore me, and I trust I shall be pardoned.' And she 
wept. 

*You have indeed punished me for the fatal acci- 
dent of birth, if it deprives me of you.* 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



'Not so,' she added, weeping; M shall never be 
the bride of earth; and but for one, whose claims 
though earthly are to me irresistible, I should have 
ere this forgotten my hereditary sorrows in the clois- 
ter.' 

All this time Egremont had retained her hand, 
which she had not attempted to withdraw. He had 
bent his head over it as she spoke; it was touched 
with his tears. For some moments there was silence; 
then, looking up and in a smothered voice, Egremont 
made one more effort to induce Sybil to consider his 
suit. He combated her views as to the importance 
to him of the sympathies of his family and of society; 
he detailed to her his hopes and plans for their future 
welfare; he dwelt with passionate eloquence on his 
abounding love. But, with a solemn sweetness, and 
as it were a tender inflexibility, the tears trickling 
down her soft cheek, and pressing his hand in both 
of hers, she subdued and put aside all his efforts. 

'Believe me,' she said, 'the gulf is impassable.' 



CHAPTER XLVIII. 




Riots at Birmingham. 



ERRIBLE news from Birmingham,' 
said Mr. Egerton at Brooks's. ' They 
have massacred the police, beat 
L off the military, and sacked the 
/town. News just arrived.' 



^^^y^^^^^'^::^^ ' I have known it these two hours,' 
said a grey-headed gentleman, speaking without tak- 
ing his eyes off the newspaper. ' There is a cabinet 
sitting now.' 

'Well, I always said so,' said Mr. Egerton; 'our 
fellows ought to have put down that Convention.' 

Mt is deuced lucky,' said Mr. Berners, 'that the 
Bedchamber business is over, and we are all right. 
This affair, in the midst of the Jamaica hitch, would 
have been fatal to us.' 

'These Chartists evidently act upon a system,' 
said Mr. Egerton. ' You see they were perfectly 
quiet till the National Petition was presented and de- 
bated; and now, almost simultaneously with our re- 
fusing to consider their petition,, we have news of 
this outbreak.' 

'I hope they will not spread,' said the grey-headed 
gentleman. 'There are not troops enough in the 
country if there be anything like a general movement. 

(405) 



4o6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



I hear they have sent the Guards down by a special 
train, and a hundred more of the police. London is 
not over-garrisoned.' 

'They are always ready for a riot at Birmingham,' 
said a Warwickshire peer. 'Trade is very bad there 
and they suffer a good deal. But I should think it 
would not go farther.' 

'I am told,' said the grey-headed gentleman, 'that 
business is getting slack in all the districts.' 

'It might be better,' said Mr. Egerton, 'but they 
have got work.' 

Here several gentlemen entered, inquiring whether 
the evening papers were in, and what was the news 
from Birmingham. 

'I am told,' said one of them, 'that the police 
were regularly smashed.' 

'Is it true that the military were really beat off?' 

'Quite untrue: the fact is, there were no proper 
preparations; the town was taken by surprise, the 
magistrates lost their heads; the people were masters 
of the place; and when the police did act, they were 
met by a triumphant populace, who two hours before 
would have fled before them. They say they have 
burnt down forty houses.' 

'It is a bad thing, this beating the police,' said the 
grey-headed gentleman. 

'But what is the present state of affairs?' inquired 
Mr. Berners. 'Are the rioters put down?' 

'Not in the least,' said Mr. Egerton, 'as 1 hear. 
They are encamped in the Bull Ring amid smoking 
ruins, and breathe nothing but havoc' 

' Well, I voted for taking the National Petition into 
consideration,' said Mr. Berners. 'It could do us no 
harm, and would have kept things quiet.' 



SYBIL 



407 



*So did every fellow on our side/ said Mr. Egerton, 
'who was not in office or about to be. Well, Heaven 
knows what may come next. The Charter may some 
day be as popular in this club as the Reform Act.' 

'The oddest thing in that debate/ said Mr. Ber- 
ners, 'was Egremont's move.' 

'I saw Marney last night at Lady St. Julians*/ said 
Mr. Egerton, 'and congratulated him on his brother's 
speech. He looked daggers, and grinned like a ghoul.' 

'It was a very remarkable speech, that of Eger- 
mont,' said the grey-headed gentleman. 'I wonder 
what he wants.' 

'1 think he must be going to turn Radical,' said 
the Warwickshire peer. 

'Why, the whole speech was against Radicalism,' 
said Mr. Egerton. • 

'Ah, then he is going to turn Whig, I suppose.' 

'He is ultra anti-Whig,' said Egerton. 

'Then what the deuce is he?' said Mr. Berners. 

'Not a Conservative certainly, for Lady St. Julians 
does nothing but abuse him.' 

'I suppose he is crotchety,' suggested the War- 
wickshire noble. 

'That speech of Egremont was the most really 
democratic speech that I ever read,' said the grey- 
headed gentleman. ' How was it listened to ? ' 

'Oh! capitally,' said Mr. Egmon. 'He has seldom 
spoken before, and always slightly though well. He 
was listened to with mute attention; never was a 
better house. I should say made a great impression, 
though no one knew exactly what he was after.' 

'What does he mean by obtaining the results of 
the Charter without the intervention of its machinery?' 
inquired Lord Loraine, a mild, middle-aged, lounging, 



4o8 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



languid man, who passed his life in crossing from 
Brooks's to Boodle's, and from Boodle's to Brooks's, and 
testing the comparative intelligence of these two cele- 
brated bodies; himself gifted with no ordinary abili- 
ties cultivated with no ordinary care, but the victim 
of sauntering, his sultana queen, as it was, according 
to Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, of the Second 
Charles Stuart. 

'He spoke throughout in an exoteric vein,' said 
the grey-headed gentleman, ' and I apprehend was not 
very sure of his audience; but I took him to mean, 
indeed it was the gist of the speech, that if you wished 
for a time to retain your political power, you could 
only effect your purpose by securing for the people 
greater social felicity.' 

'Well, that is sheer Radicalism,' said the Warwick- 
shire peer; 'pretending that the people can be better 
off than they are, is Radicalism and nothing else.' 

'I fear, if that be Radicalism,' said Lord Loraine, 
'we must all take a leaf out of the same book. 
Sloane was saying at Boodle's just now that he looked 
forward to the winter in his country with horror.' 

'And they have no manufactures there,' said Mr. 
Egerton. 

' Sloane was always a croaker,' said the Warwick- 
shire peer. 'He always said the New Poor Law 
would not act, and there is no part of the country 
where it works so well as in his own.' 

' They say at Boodle's there is to be an increase to 
the army,' said Lord Loraine; 'ten thousand men im- 
mediately; decided on by the cabinet this afternoon.' 

' It could hardly have leaked out by this time,' 
said the grey-headed gentleman. ' The cabinet were 
sitting less than an hour ago.' 



SYBIL 



'They have been up a good hour/ said Lord Lo- 
raine, ' quite long enough for their decisions to be 
known in St. James' Street. In the good old times, 
George Farnley used always to walk from Downing 
Street to this place the moment the council was up 
and tell us everything.' 

* Ah! those were the good old gentleman-like times,' 
said Mr. Berners, ' when members of Parliament had 
nobody to please and ministers of State nothing to do.' 

The riots of Birmingham occurred two months after 
the events that closed our last chapter. That period, 
so far as the obvious movements of the Chartists were 
concerned, had been passed in preparations for the 
presentation and discussion of the National Petition, 
which the parliamentary embroilments of the spring 
of that year had hitherto procrastinated and prevented. 
The petition was ultimately carried down to West- 
minster on a triumphal car, accompanied by all the 
delegates of the Convention in solemn procession. It 
was necessary to construct a machine in order to in- 
troduce the huge bulk of parchment, signed by a 
million and a half of persons, into the House of Com- 
mons; and thus supported, its vast form remained on 
the floor of the House during the discussion. The 
House, after a debate which was not deemed by the 
people commensurate with the importance of the oc- 
casion, decided on rejecting the prayer of the Petition, 
and from that moment the party in the Convention 
who advocated a recourse to physical force in order 
to obtain their purpose, was in the ascendant. 

The National Petition, and the belief that, though its 
objects would not at present be obtained, yet a solemn 
and prolonged debate on its prayer would at least 
hold out to the working-classes the hope that their 



4IO BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

rights might from that date rank among the acknowl- 
edged subjects of parliamentary discussion, and ulti- 
mately, by the force of discussion, be recognised, as 
other rights of other portions of the people once 
equally disputed, had been the means by which the 
party in the Convention who upheld on all occasions 
the supremacy of moral power had been able to curb 
the energetic and reckless minority, who derided from 
the first all other methods but terror and violence as 
effective of their end. The hopes of all, the vanity of 
many, were frustrated and shocked by finding that 
the exertions and expenditure of long months were 
not only fruitless, but had not even attracted as nu- 
merous an assembly, or excited as much interest, as 
an ordinary party struggle on some petty point of 
factitious interest, forgotten as soon as fought. 

The attention of the working-classes was called 
by their leaders to the contrast between the interest 
occasioned by the endangered constitution of Jamaica, 
a petty and exhausted colony, and the claims for the 
same constitutional rights by the working millions of 
England. In the first instance, not a member was 
absent from his place; men were brought indeed from 
distant capitals to participate in the struggle and to 
decide it; the debate lasted for days, almost for 
weeks; not a public man of light and leading in the 
country withheld the expression of his opinion; the 
fate of governments was involved in it; cabinets were 
overthrown and reconstructed in the throes and tumult 
of the strife, and, for the first time for a long period, 
the Sovereign personally interposed in public transac- 
tions with a significance of character which made 
the working-classes almost believe that the privileged 
had at last found a master, and the unfranchised re- 



SYBIL 



gained their natural chief. The mean position which 
the Saxon multitude occupied, as distinguished from 
the Jamaica planters, sunk deep into their hearts. 

From that time all hope of relief from the demon- 
stration of a high moral conduct in the millions, and 
the exhibition of that well-regulated order of public 
life which would intimate their fitness for the posses- 
sion and fulfilment of public rights, vanished. The 
party of violence, a small minority, as is usually the 
case, but consisting of men of determined character, 
triumphed; and the outbreak at Birmingham was the 
first consequence of those reckless counsels that were 
destined in the course of the ensuing years to inflict 
on the working-classes of this country so much suf- 
fering and disaster. 

It was about this time, a balmy morning of July, 
that Sybil, tempted by the soft sunshine, and a long- 
ing for the sight of flowers and turf and the spread of 
winding waters, went forth from her gloomy domicile 
to those beautiful gardens that bloom in that once 
melancholy region of marsh, celebrated in old days 
only for its Dutch canal and its Chinese bridge, and 
now not unworthy of the royal park that encloses 
them. Except here and there a pretty nursery-maid 
with her interesting charge — some beautiful child with 
nodding plume, immense bow, and gorgeous sash — 
the gardens were vacant. Indeed it was only at this 
early hour that Sybil found from experience that it 
was agreeable in London for a woman unaccompanied 
to venture abroad. There is no European city where 
our fair sisters are so little independent as in our me- 
tropolis — to our shame. 

Something of the renovating influence of a beauti- 
ful nature was needed by the daughter of Gerard. She 



412 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

was at this moment anxious and dispirited. The out- 
break at Birmingham, the conviction that such pro- 
ceedings must ultimately prove fatal to the cause to 
which she was devoted, the dark apprehension that 
her father was in some manner implicated in this 
movement, which had commenced with so much 
public disaster, and which menaced consequences still 
more awful; all these events, and fears, and sad fore- 
bodings, acted with immense influence on a tempera- 
ment which, though gifted with even a sublime courage, 
was singularly sensitive. The quick and teeming im- 
agination of Sybil conjured up a thousand fears which 
were in some degree unfounded, in a great degree 
exaggerated; but this is the inevitable lot of the creative 
mind practising on the inexperienced. 

The shock too had been sudden. The two months 
that had elapsed since she had parted, as she supposed 
for ever, from Egremont, while they had not less 
abounded than the preceding time in that pleasing 
public excitement which her father's career, in her 
estimation alike useful, honourable, and distinguished, 
occasioned her, had been fruitful in some sources of 
satisfaction of a softer and more domestic character. 
The acquaintance of Hatton, of whom they saw a 
great deal, had very much contributed to the increased 
amenity of her life. He was a most agreeable, in- 
structive, and obHging companion; who seemed pe- 
culiarly to possess the art of making life pleasant by 
the adroit management of unobtrusive resources. He 
lent Sybil books; and all that he recommended to her 
notice were of a kind that harmonised with her sen- 
timent and taste. He furnished her from his library 
with splendid works of art, illustrative of these periods 
of our history, and those choice and costly edifices 



SYBIL 



413 



which were associated with her fondest thought and 
fancy. He placed in her room the best periodical 
literature of the day, which for her was a new world; 
he furnished her with newspapers whose columns of 
discussion taught her that the opinions she had em- 
braced were not unquestioned; as she had never seen 
a journal in her life before, except a stray number of 
the 'Mowbray Phalanx,' or the metropolitan publica- 
tion which was devoted to the cause of the National 
Convention, and reported her father's speeches, the 
effect of this reading on her intelligence was, to say 
the least, suggestive. 

Many a morning, too, when Gerard was disengaged, 
Hatton would propose that they should show Sybil 
something of the splendour or the rarities of the metrop- 
olis; its public buildings, museums, and galleries of art. 
Sybil, though uninstructed in painting, had that native 
taste which requires only observation to arrive at true 
results. She was much interested with all she saw 
and all that occurred, and her gratification was 
heightened by the society of an individual who not 
only sympathised with all she felt, but who, if she 
made an inquiry, was ever ready with an instructive 
reply. Hatton poured forth the taste and treasures of 
a well-stored and refined intelligence. And then, too, 
always easy, bland, and considerate; and though with 
luxuries and conveniences at his command, to participate 
in which, under any other circumstances, might have 
been embarrassing to his companions, with so much 
tact, that either by an allusion to early days, happy 
days when he owed so much to Gerard's father, or 
some other mode equally felicitous, he contrived com- 
pletely to maintain among them the spirit of equality. 

In the evening, Hatton generally looked in when 



414 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

Gerard was at home, and on Sundays they were 
always together. Their common faith was a bond 
of union which led them to the same altar, and 
on that day Hatton had obtained their promise always 
to dine with him. He was careful to ascertain each 
holy day at what chapel the music was most exqui- 
site, that the most passionate taste of Sybil might be 
gratified. Indeed, during this residence in London, 
the opportunity it afforded of making her acquainted 
with some of the great masters of the human voice 
was perhaps to Sybil a source of pleasure not the 
least important. For, though it was not deemed con- 
sistent with the future discipline which she contem- 
plated to enter a theatre, there were yet occasions 
which permitted her, under every advantage, to listen 
to the performance of the masterpieces of sacred 
melody. Alone, with Hatton and her father, she often 
poured forth those tones of celestial sweetness and 
ethereal power that had melted the soul of Egremont 
amid the ruins of Marney Abbey. 

More intimately acquainted with Sybil Gerard, Hat- 
ton had shrunk from the project that he had at first 
so crudely formed. There was something about her 
that awed, while it fascinated him. He did not re- 
linquish his purpose, for it was a rule of his life never 
to do that; but he postponed the plans of its fulfil- 
ment. Hatton was not, what is commonly under- 
stood by the phrase, in love with Sybil: certainly not 
passionately in love with her. With all his daring 
and talents, and fine taste, there was in Hatton such 
a vein of thorough good sense, that it was impossi- 
ble for him to act or even to think anything that was 
ridiculous. He wished still to marry Sybil for the 
great object that we have stated; he had a mind quite 



SYBIL 



415 



equal to appreciate her admirable qualities, but sense 
enough to wish that she were a less dazzling creature, 
because then he would have a better chance of ac- 
complishing his end. He perceived, when he had had 
a due opportunity to study her character, that the 
cloister was the natural catastrophe impending over 
a woman who, with an exalted mind, great abilities, 
a fine and profound education, and almost super- 
natural charms, found herself born and rooted in the 
ranks of a degraded population. 

All this Hatton knew; it was a conclusion he had 
arrived at by a gradual process of induction, and by 
vigilant observation that in its study of character had 
rarely been deceived; and when, one evening, with 
an art that could not be suspected, he sounded Ger- 
ard on the future of his daughter, he found that the 
clear intellect and straightforward sagacity of the 
father had arrived at the same result. 'She wishes,' 
said Gerard, 'to take the veil, and I only oppose it 
for a time, that she may have some knowledge of 
life and a clear conception of what she is about to 
do. I wish not that she should hereafter reproach 
her father. But, to my mind, Sybil is right. She 
cannot look to marriage : no man that she could marry 
would be worthy of her.' 

During these two months, and especially during 
the last, Morley was rarely in London, though ever 
much with Gerard, and often with his daughter, 
during his visits. The necessary impulse had been 
given to the affairs of the Convention, the delegates 
had visited the members, the preparations for the 
presentation of the National Petition had been com- 
pleted; the overthrow of the Whig government, the 
abortive effort of Sir Robert Peel, the return of the 



4i6 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Whig administration, and the consequent measures 
had occasioned a delay of two months in the pres- 
entation of the great document: it was well for 
Gerard to remain, who was a leader in debate, and 
whose absence for a week would have endangered 
his position as the head of a party, but these con- 
siderations did not influence Morley, who had already 
found great inconvenience in managing his journal at 
a distance; so, about the middle of May, he had re- 
turned to Mowbray, coming up occasionally by the 
train if anything important were stirring, or his vote 
could be of service to his friend and colleague. The 
affair of Birmingham, however, had alarmed Morley, 
and he had written up to Gerard that he should 
instantly repair to town. Indeed he was expected 
the very morning that Sybil, her father having gone 
to the Convention, where there were at this very 
moment fiery debates, went forth to take the morning 
air of summer in the gardens of St. James' Park. 

It was a real summer day; large, round, glossy, 
fleecy clouds, as white and shining as glaciers, stud- 
ded with their immense and immovable forms the 
deep blue sky. There was not even a summer 
breeze, though the air was mellow, balmy and ex- 
hilarating. There was a bloom upon the trees, the 
waters glittered, the prismatic wild-fowl dived, breathed 
again, and again disappeared. Beautiful children, fresh 
and sweet as the new-born rose, glanced about with 
the gestures and sometimes the voices of Paradise. And 
in the distance rose the sacred towers of the great 
Western Minster. 

How fair is a garden amid the toils and passions 
of existence! A curse upon those who vulgarise and 
desecrate these holy haunts; breaking the hearts of 



SYBIL 



417 



nursery-maids, and smoking tobacco in the palace of 
the rose! 

The mental clouds dispelled as Sybil felt the fresh- 
ness and fragrance of nature. The colour came to 
her cheek; the deep brightness returned to her eye: 
her step, that at first had been languid, and if not 
melancholy, at least contemplative, became active and 
animated. She forgot the cares of life, and was 
touched by all the sense of all its enjoyment. To 
move, to breathe, to feel the sunbeam, were sensible 
and surpassing pleasures. Cheerful by nature, not- 
withstanding her stately thoughts and solemn life, a 
brilliant smile played on her seraphic face, as she 
marked the wild passage of the daring birds, or 
watched the thoughtless grace of infancy. 

She rested herself on a bench beneath a branching 
elm, and her eye, which for some time had followed 
the various objects that had attracted it, was now 
fixed in abstraction on the sunny waters. The visions 
of past life rose before her. It was one of those 
reveries when the incidents of our existence are 
mapped before us, when each is considered with re- 
lation to the rest, and assumes in our knowledge its 
distinct and absolute position; when, as it were, we 
take stock of our experience, and ascertain how rich 
sorrow and pleasure, feeling and thought, intercourse 
with our fellow-creatures and the fortuitous mysteries 
of life, have made us in wisdom. 

The quick intelligence and the ardent imagination 
of Sybil had made her comprehend with fervour the 
two ideas that had been impressed on her young 
mind; the oppression of her Church and the degra- 
dation of her people. Educated in solitude and ex- 
changing thoughts only with individuals of the same 

14 B. D.— 27 



41 8 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

sympathies, these impressions had resolved them- 
selves into one profound and gloomy conviction that 
the world was divided only between the oppressors 
and the oppressed. With her, to be one of the peo- 
ple was to be miserable and innocent; one of the 
privileged, a luxurious tyrant. In the cloister, in her 
garden, amid the scenes of suffering which she often 
visited and always solaced, she had raised up two 
phantoms which with her represented human nature. 

But the experience of the last few months had 
operated a great change in these impressions. She 
had seen enough to suspect that the world was a 
more complicated system than she had preconceived. 
There was not that strong and rude simplicity in its 
organisation which she had supposed. The charac- 
ters were more various, the motives more mixed, the 
classes more blended, the elements of each more 
subtle and diversified, than she had imagined. 
The people, she found, was not that pure embodi- 
ment of unity of feeling, of interest, and of purpose, 
which she had pictured in her abstractions. The 
people had enemies among the people: their own 
passions; which made them often sympathise, often 
combine, with the privileged. Her father, with all 
his virtues, all his abilities, singleness of purpose, and 
simplicity of aim, encountered rivals in their own 
Convention, and was beset by open, or, still worse, 
secret foes. 

Sybil, whose mind had been nurtured with great 
thoughts, and with whom success or failure ahke par- 
took of the heroic, who had hoped for triumph, but 
who was prepared for sacrifice, found to her surprise 
that great thoughts have very little to do with the 
business of the world; that human affairs, even in an 



SYBIL 



419 



age of revolution, are the subject of compromise; and 
that the essence of compromise is littleness. She 
thought that the people, calm and collected, conscious 
at last of their strength and confident in their holy 
cause, had but to express their pure and noble con- 
victions by the delegates of their choice, and that an 
antique and decrepit authority must bow before the 
irresistible influence of their moral power. These 
delegates of their choice turned out to be a plebeian 
senate of wild ambitions and sinister and selfish ends, 
while the decrepit authority that she had been taught 
existed only by the sufferance of the millions, was com- 
pact and organised, with every element of physical 
power at its command, and supported by the in- 
terests, the sympathies, the honest convictions, and 
the strong prejudices of classes influential not merely 
from their wealth but even by their numbers. 

Nor could she resist the belief that the feeling of 
the rich towards the poor was not that sentiment of 
unmingled hate and scorn which she associated with 
Norman conquerors and feudal laws. She would as- 
cribe rather the want of sympathy that unquestiona- 
bly exists between wealth and work in England, to 
mutual ignorance between the classes which possess 
these two great elements of national prosperity; and 
though the source of that ignorance was to be sought 
in antecedent circumstances of violence and oppres- 
sion, the consequences perhaps had outlived the causes, 
as customs survive opinions. 

Sybil looked towards Westminster, to those proud 
and passionate halls where assembles the Parliament 
of England; that rapacious, violent, and haughty 
body, which had brought kings and prelates to the 
block; spoiled churches and then seized the sacred 



420 BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



manors for their personal prey; invested their own 
possessions with infinite privileges, and then mort- 
gaged for their state and empire the labour of count- 
less generations. Could the voice of solace sound 
from such a quarter? 

Sybil unfolded a journal which she had brought; 
not now to be read for the first time; but now for 
the first time to be read alone, undisturbed, in a 
scene of softness and serenity. It contained a report 
of the debate in the House of Commons on the pres- 
entation of the National Petition; that important docu- 
ment which had been the means of drawing forth 
Sybil from her solitude, and of teaching her some- 
thing of that world of which she had often pondered, 
and yet which she had so inaccurately preconceived. 

Yes! there was one voice that had sounded in 
that proud Parliament, that, free from the slang of 
faction, had dared to express immortal truths: the 
voice of a noble, who without being a demagogue, 
had upheld the popular cause; had pronounced his 
conviction that the rights of labour were as sacred as 
those of property; that if a difference were to be es- 
tablished, the interests of the living wealth ought to 
be preferred; who had declared that the social happi- 
ness of the millions should be the first object of a 
statesman, and that, if this were not achieved, thrones 
and dominions, the pomp and power of courts and 
empires, were alike worthless. 

With a heart not without emotion, with a kindling 
cheek, and eyes suffused with tears, Sybil read the 
speech of Egremont. She ceased; still holding the 
paper with one hand, she laid on it the other with 
tenderness, and looked up to breathe, as it were, for 
relief. Before her stood the orator himself.